Retailers' groups have urged Dublin Port to reconsider its decision to cut the number of cruise ships coming to the city by more than 50% in 2021.

Dublin Port is planning to cut the number of cruise ships from 172 last year to 80 in 2021.

It said it was making the decision because cargo volumes are up by over a third since 2012, which had led to tighter berthing space at the port.

Between March and October, the country will receive almost 200,000 visitors from cruise ships stopping in Dublin Port, before moving on to destinations like Cobh, Waterford and Belfast. 

DublinTown, which is made up of 2,500 businesses in Dublin city centre, said the cruise ship trade now adds up to €35m to the local economy.

Richard Guiney, CEO of DublinTown, said the move by Dublin Port will have "disastrous consequences" for tourism in the city and will also impact ports around the country. 

"If cruise operators remove Ireland from their itineraries now, it could prove virtually impossible to win them back. By sending out this message, Ireland may end up losing this vital resource forever," he cautioned.

He also said that Dublin has come to rely on cruise ship tourists. "At a time when Brexit has brought a decline in tourist numbers from Britain to Ireland, it is important that Dublin Port works with the rest of the city to increase the flow of passengers rather than curtail it," he stated. 

He also said that Dublin is in a unique position as the proximity of the port to the city means we can offer access for passengers in a way that other European capitals cannot rival. 

Meanwhile, Retail Excellence Ireland has also called for an urgent review of Dublin Port's decision, saying the group was "alarmed and dismayed" at the decision and lack of consultation on such an issue of national economic importance.

JP Kennedy, Chairperson of Retail Excellence said, the Dublin Port move is a significant national issue, with potentially disastrous consequences for a significant number of our members, right around the country.

"Dublin Port's ultimate shareholder and stakeholder is the Irish Government and by direct extension the Irish citizen," Mr Kennedy said. 

"We must all call for a halt to this unilateral decision until proper consultation with Government and with the full range of stakeholders takes place," he added.