Fáilte Ireland said the fall-off in the number of Irish travelling abroad last summer was an opportunity to boost the stay-at-home tourist market.
The Central Statistics Office released figures showing that the number of Irish travelling abroad last summer fell for the first time in 18 years.
Some 2.1 million people went overseas between July and September – down 12% on the same period last year.
The CSO said it was the first time the number has dropped since 1991, with holiday trips the biggest casualties down 17%.
Visits to Ireland also plummeted, with the number of tourists using B&Bs down a third.
A Fáilte Ireland spokesman said: “The figures reflect what our own research has been showing.”
“They’re not surprising to us and not surprising in the current economic climate.
“If people are foregoing weekend breaks and short breaks abroad, there is a lot more potential for business within the home holiday market.”
The CSO figures reveal:
:: 2.14 million people went overseas on trips last summer, down from 2.43 million in 2008 marking the first fall in 18 years.
:: Holiday trips dropped 17%, but visits to friends and relatives experienced a 3% bump.
:: The number of people who spent nights in Ireland dropped by more than a fifth, while the number who stayed in B&Bs and guesthouses fell a third.
:: British visitors to the country were down 17%, while European tourists plummeted 10%.
Failte Ireland said it will launch a massive newspaper and broadcast advertising campaign in the spring in the hope of increasing the number holidaying at home.
“The numbers this year would have held level. But as we go into next year we would hope that those numbers would hold level and even rise,” the spokesman added.