The number of overseas visitors to Ireland rose by 10.9% to more than 9.5m last year, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show.

Trips by residents of Britain – Ireland's largest market for overseas tourism – increased by 10.6% to over 3.9m across the year, while the country welcomed 3.3m visitors from the rest of Europe.

The number of North American visitors to Ireland in 2016 was nearly a fifth higher at 1.8m, and trips to Ireland from "Other Areas" increased by 2.2% to 550,200.

For the last three months of the year, the total number of trips to Ireland exceeded 2.1m – a rise of 7.2% compared with the same period in 2015.

For the final quarter of the year, the number of visits to Ireland from Britain was 910,000, showing an increase on the same period for the past three years.

The CSO figures also indicate the number of Irish residents making overseas trips in 2016 was 6.3% higher at 7.4m.

Between October and December, the total number of overseas trips made by Irish residents rose by 10.0% to 1.7m.

Tourism Ireland has welcomed the latest figures.

Its CEO Niall Gibbons said: "I am delighted to report that growth was recorded from all of our markets around the world, with exceptional results from North America (+19.4% on 2015).

"Ireland now welcomes 10% of all American visitors to Europe – particularly noteworthy given the intense competition from other destinations."

However, Mr Gibbons said 2017 presents a number of challenges for the tourism sector, including Brexit.

"Since the EU referendum in the United Kingdom, Tourism Ireland has been monitoring developments closely, to better understand and plan for the implications of Brexit.

"Tourism Ireland believes that the adverse impact of Brexit can be mitigated through a combination of aggressive overseas marketing and the continuation of existing successful wider policy initiatives.

"In 2017, Tourism Ireland will continue to implement its market diversification strategy; the organisation intends to maximise holiday revenue through investment in Mainland Europe and North America.

"The depreciation of the pound against the euro since the UK referendum on Brexit means that value for money will be a key message for us in Britain this year," the Tourism Ireland CEO added.