Visitors to Ireland dropped by 13 per cent in 2009 and tourist numbers from Britain, Ireland's largest market for tourists, dropped by a worrying 16 per cent.

Yesterday Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons spoke to Ireland's Joint Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, and Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, about the significant drop in visitor numbers.

"Our most recent forecast for 2009 indicates that visitor numbers to the island will have fallen by 13 per cent. Our most important market, Great Britain, is forecast to fall by 16 per cent. In addition, we have also seen declines of 6 per cent from North America and 10 per cent from mainland Europe.”

The committee chairman Tom Kitt said that the travelers were now more price conscious. He added that the $14 tax imposed by the Irish government on all international travelers was severely damaging the tourist industry.

Members of the committee also criticized the Irish media for "begrudging" government figures that travel abroad for St Patrick's Day.

Every year the Irish media publishes in detail, the expenses of government figures that travel abroad for St Patrick's Day.

The drop in tourist numbers is a further blow to Ireland, which is still stuck in a deep recession.


Tourism in Ireland is down 12 percent this year