Nearly 300 Irish people were arrested while on vacation abroad last year.

The total of 293 arrest cases for a variety of offenses was down from 2009, which saw 319 arrests.

The arrests were among 1,310 "serious consular emergencies" in which assistance was provided by Irish consular staff in foreign countries last year. The cases involved everything from deaths, arrests, and accidents to Irish people needing local hospital treatment.

Department of Foreign Affairs officials were also involved in helping Irish people caught up in natural disasters, such as the Haiti earthquake and the Icelandic volcanic ash crisis.

Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin told the Evening Herald that his department was busy with many requests for assistance in 2010.

"The department's statistics show a great number of Irish citizens are finding themselves in distressing situations while traveling abroad and traveling to ever more exotic and unusual destinations," he said.

Martin urged people to "exercise caution and take sensible precautions" while abroad. He also advised that people planning trips abroad should get comprehensive travel insurance, including medical insurance.

He also said that Irish people should respect local laws and customs, avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and be aware that the use of drugs can and does result in death.

"At the very least, purchase or possession of drugs can result in arrest and long terms of imprisonment, sometimes in dangerous locations in distant countries," he added.

Irish citizens can register their travel details at the Department of Foreign Affairs website,, which enables officials to contact them or their next of kin in case of a consular emergency.