Over 1.5 million trips abroad were undertaken by Irish residents in the fourth quarter of last year, up 9.7% on the same time in 2103, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show.

The Household Travel Survey figures show that Irish people used 10.1 million bed nights when abroad with the average length of stay on outbound trips 6.7 nights.

The UK remains the most popular destination in terms of the number of trips (607,000). It was followed by Spain (273,000) and France (86,000).

The figures also reveal that Irish people spent almost €1.2 billion on outbound trips in the last three months of 2014. €661m was spent on holidays, €244m on visiting friends or relatives and €204m on business trips.

The CSO also said that Irish residents took 1.65 million domestic trips in the fourth quarter, up 6% compared to the same time in 2013.

Each trip had an average duration of 2.4 nights, which resulted in four million bed nights.

Total expenditure on domestic trips amounted to €324m in the three month period. Almost €155m of this was accounted for by those on holidays, while people visiting friends or relations spent €89m.

For 2014 as a whole, Irish residents took 7.4 million domestic trips, resulting in 21.2 million bed nights. Total expenditure on these trips amounted to €1.46 billion.

Fáilte Ireland chief executive Shaun Quinn said today's CSO figures show the domestic market remains robust, saying this is primarily down to the competitive advantage the sector now has in terms of quality and value. 

He said: "Fáilte Ireland will be playing its part this year to strengthen this domestic performance through relentless marketing - both traditional and online - of the Discover Ireland brand."

Almost 6.7 million outbound trips were undertaken by Irish residents for the whole of last year. The average stay on these trips was eight days. 

Within the European Union, the UK remained the most popular destination for travel in terms of number of trips.