South West is still top destination for Irish

August 8th, 2016 7:15 AM

By Siobhan Cronin

Mizen Head Visitor Centre was No 59 on the list of Irish visitor attractions.

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THE South West region of Ireland, encompassing Cork and Kerry, remains the most popular destination in the country for Irish holidaymakers.

However, West Cork made no appearance on the Top Visitor Attractions lists – either free or paid-in – issued by Fáilte Ireland this week. 

The tourism body’s report showed that 22% of all Irish holidaymakers chose to visit the South West last year.

The next most popular destinations were the West and South East.

But the result shows a slight drop on the previous year, when 23% of Irish people chose to visit the South West.

The report shows that the West and South East regions are hot on the heels of both Cork and Kerry, as the numbers visiting those regions had either risen (by 3% to 22% in South East) or remained static (West, 19%), compared with 2014 figures.

But Cork and Kerry are still way ahead of the other regions when it comes to the number of nights spent on holiday. Irish people spent 25% of their 2015 holiday nights in the South West, and that figure hasn’t changed since 2014.

Holiday makers spent slightly less money in the South West in 2015 than they had in 2014. The report shows that just under a quarter (24%) of total domestic expenditure was spent in the South West, down from 25% the previous year.

However, this compares well with other regions, followed by the West, getting just 20% of the national holiday cash in 2015.

While the South West is the most popular destination for holidaymakers, it has maintained that title despite its poor showing on the Visitor Attractions lists.

The most popular paid-in visitor attraction in Ireland last year was the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, with 1.5m visitors, followed by the Cliffs of Moher (1.3m) and Dublin Zoo (1.1m).

The most popular paid-in attraction in West Cork, which ranked at No 59 on the list, was the Mizen Head Visitor Experience, with 73,000 visitors, according to Fáilte Ireland.

‘While there are not many major visitor attractions in West Cork, we would see West Cork as an attraction in itself, due to its great scenery and beaches,’ Alex Connolly of Fáilte Ireland told The Southern Star.

And he added that the tourism body is currently seeking applications for its fund for Large Tourism Projects which has €65m for investment to develop new, or boost existing, tourism experiences and attractions across Ireland.

The scheme has been designed to support large tourism projects with significant economic potential, and one of the sectors being targetted imcludes any business along the Wild Atlantic Way.

‘We are looking for flagship, iconic, tourist attractions, and I would encourage the local authority to consider applying for this funding too,’ he added.

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