By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — The tourist industry may be facing a crisis this year as a result of foot-and-mouth disease, but it had a bumper year in 2000, with a record 6.4 million visitors to the country, a rise of 5.8 percent.
The tourists brought in £2.9 billion in foreign exchange earnings and the average stay in the country was 7.7 nights.
Britain remains the biggest market, accounting for 3.6 million visitors, which was a 7 percent increase on 1999.
There were 357,000 day trippers to the country, 85.2 percent of them from Britain.
There were just over a million visitors from the U.S. and Canada, a rise of over 11 percent.
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About 1.5 million European visitors traveled to the country, an increase of over 10 percent.
Of the total 6.4 million visitors, just over 3.4 million said they were coming for holidays or recreation, according to the Central Statistics Office. Just over a million were on business trips and 1.6 million said they were visiting friends or relatives.
With the buoyant economy, more and more people are taking foreign holidays. Irish travel on continental European routes jumped by almost 21 percent, transatlantic trips were up almost 17 percent and crossings to Britain were up over 6 percent.