Foreign earnings from tourism are on track to hit €5 billion this year, according to new figures from Fáilte Ireland.

The tourism development body is projecting a 12% increase in earnings and a 9% increase in overseas visitor numbers to 7.3 million for 2014.

Spending by Irish people on trips within Ireland is also ahead and is expected to finish up 6% higher than last year at €1.5 billion. 

That brings total earnings from tourism this year to €6.5 billion according to the Fáilte Ireland estimates, up 10% on last year.

Fáilte Ireland's annual tourism industry review shows that all markets showed healthy growth, with increases in air access resulting in record numbers of visitors from the US and a return to increased tourists from the UK and continental Europe.

The review also said that based on Central Statistics Office figures, it is estimated that 139,800 people work in the accommodation and food service sectors. An extra 2,100 jobs have been created in the sector since last year.

However, Fáilte Ireland said that when other parts of the industry are included - such as conferencing, attractions and festivals - the numbers employed have actually reached 205,000, up 5,000 on last year. 

The country's value for money rating also continues to improve, with 60% of holidaymakers says that Ireland offers good value for money. This is up from 29% in 2009.

Expectations for next year within the tourism industry are very positive, today's review states. 

99% of accommodation providers expect the same or increased number of tourists next year, with four out of five of these businesses citing the 9% VAT rate as a positive factor for their expected performance.

However, some concerns still linger, including low cost competition and fuel and energy costs. 

"Next year we have some tantalising prizes to aim for. Whether its visitors, revenue or jobs, tourism looks set to deliver in 2015 a record breaking year," commented Fáilte Ireland's chief executive Shaun Quinn. 

"Fáilte Ireland will support these ambitious targets by developing compelling reasons to visit Ireland and will work closely with tourism businesses throughout the country to sell smarter and market more effectively," he added.