The number of people travelling to Ireland in August fell compared to the same month of last year, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office. 

August marked the second consecutive month of decline in visitor numbers, something that will cause concern within the tourism sector.

Today's CSO figures showed that 1,190,600 people travelled to Ireland during August - a decrease of 11,500 - or 1% - from August last year. 

The August decline follows a half a percent fall in visitors during July. 

July and August are traditionally the most important months of the year for the tourism sector and last year they accounted for just under 23% of the entire year's visits.

Today's figures also showed that trips by residents of the UK to Ireland decreased by 2.7% to 393,900 while trips by residents of European Countries rose by 0.2% to 427,900.  

Meanwhile, trips by residents of North America decreased by 1.5% to 282,500 while trips to Ireland from Other Areas increased by 3.7% to 86,300. 

However, trips made to Ireland are still up in the year so far, however.

Ireland saw almost 7.4 million visitors between the months of January and August, compared to over 7.2 million the same time last year.

Meanwhile more Irish residents are taking overseas trips of their own, with more than 6 million travelling in the first eight months of the year, up 8% on last year.

Reacting to the news, the CEO of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) warned trading conditions for tourism and hospitality businesses are far more challenging this year.

Eoghan O'Mara Walsh said there was now an onus on Government to support the sector during these turbulent times by improving competitiveness and increasing investment.

The organisation also criticised the Government for what it described as a drift on tourism policy including increased taxation, rising costs of business, inadequate overseas marketing budgets, and confusion over new regulations curbing self-catering tourism accommodation.