Paul O’Toole, chief executive of the north/south organization Tourism Ireland, warned last weekend that the market in Great Britain could be particularly affected.
Telephone inquiries are already significantly down, he said, a first indication of a drop in tourism.
“We have seen a dip in consumer enquiries as consumers become increasingly nervous of the consequences of a prospect of an Iraq war,” he said.
“However, Ireland is a close-to-home destination and I am hopeful that once the immediate uncertainty abates, we will see a quick return to consumer confidence in Great Britain.”
Tourism Ireland met last week with Bord Failte and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board under the umbrella group, the Tourism Response Group, which looks at ways to boost tourism during downturns.
O’Toole said the group looked at the war period and how much of a downturn the industry could expect, and then at how soon confidence will return once the war is over.
“As the impact of the Iraq war unfolds over the coming weeks we will continue to carefully monitor, assess and review the marketplace and then revise our plans so that we can ensure our marketing budgets are spent to best effect,” he said.