The total number of overseas visits to Ireland this year is down by 1m on the figure for last year.

The figure is contained in the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation's end of year review.

The review estimates that 5.5m people travelled to Ireland in the last 12 months.

In the last three years, annual revenue from overseas visitors has declined by €1.7bn.

Tourist numbers from Britain have also fallen sharply in the same period.

The confederation, which represents a range of organisations with interests in the tourism sector, says it is confident that there will be a reversal of recent trends in the coming year.

It highlights the €7 reduction in the airport departure tax and says a weaker euro will help attract visitors from key British and US markets.

The report says a recovery in the numbers visiting from abroad is crucial to the tourism sector, as domestic demand is not likely to recover significantly over the next few years.