The backlog in passport applications has decreased by almost 5,000 in the last two weeks, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

There were almost 70,000 applicants waiting for a passport three weeks ago, as the turnover time stood at 20 working days for those applying through Passport Express.

However, a spokesman for the department, Derek Lambe, said there had been a notable drop over the last few days.

"The backlog is now 65,651. The department are going through 4,100 applications per day, while the number of passports produced per day on average is 3,600."

The department is still advising travellers to check passport expiry dates and ensure all forms are filled out correctly in order to cut down on queuing time at passport offices in Cork and Dublin.

Fine Gael spokesperson for foreign affairs Billy Timmins said that the decrease is good news for Irish vacationers this summer.

"I am glad to see the numbers decreasing and that this problem might finally be resolved for those waiting to go abroad. However, there is still a lot to be done.

"Applications increased by 27% when the action kicked off, so besides the usual seasonal rise there was this on top of it. I do know that employees out in the passport offices are working flat out at the moment."

However, industry sources say the passport office is not taking on extra temporary staff, which are usually employed at this time of year, as part of their industrial action campaign.

Last month the Civil, Public and Services Union (CPSU) lifted an overtime ban in order to help clear the backlog which at the time stood at 50,000.

The decision was expected to play a huge part in speeding up applications.