There has been a dramatic drop in the number of tourists coming to the Republic, while the number of Irish people travelling abroad has also fallen for the first time in 18 years.
The number of visitors to Ireland fell to 1.9 million in the second-quarter of the year, down by 12pc from 2.16 million tourists in the same period of 2008.
The number of visitors to Ireland for holiday purposes fell by 20pc, with business visitors also down and only visits to see friends or relatives holding up compared to last year, the latest Central Statistics Office figures show.
The largest decrease was in the number of overseas visits by British residents which was down by 16pc, probably due to the poor exchange rate for sterling visitors.
Visits from the US only fell by 2pc, while the number of visitors from European countries fell by 10pc.
Although people were staying longer when they got here, with average stays up from 7.6 nights to 9 nights, tourists appear to be tightening their belts significantly.
Hotels are the hardest hit by the tourism downturn with the number of nights spent in them decreasing by a massive 25pc, whereas guesthouses saw a more modest 8pc drop in business.
However camping and caravan sites enjoyed a 50pc upsurge in business, while more people bunked in with their friends and relatives to cut costs.
Irish residents made 1.9 million overseas trips between April and June 2009, a decrease of 7pc on the same period in 2008, and the first time this number has fallen since 1991.
Tourism Ireland said it was one of the most difficult years the Irish tourism industry had ever faced.
"The global tourism industry continues to be hard hit by the worldwide recession and by extreme volatility across all major markets," said Chief Executive Niall Gibbons.
Tourism Ireland is running a massive €18m autumn campaign to try attract visitors for the rest of the year.
Source Irish Independent