Main attractions see visitor increase
The country’s main tourist attractions recorded an increase in visitor numbers last year, according to figures released by Fáilte Ireland.
The tourism body recorded a 6 per cent rise in visitor numbers in 2011 and said it is hoping to improve on that figure in 2012.
It said visits by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and US president Barack Obama provided the country with an opportunity to showcase itself as a value-for-money destination.
The Guinness Storehouse was one of the main beneficiaries, leapfrogging Dublin Zoo into top spot on the most visited listm with 1,025,677 visitors in 2011.
About a million visitors went through the stiles at the zoo, a 35,000 increase on the previous year, thanks in part to the move of the zoo’s gorilla contingent to the newly designed rainforest habitat on the African Plains side of the Phoenix Park campus.
The Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare had 809,474 peeping over the edge at the Atlantic Ocean 214 metres below while the Book of Kells in Trinity College, Dublin, attracted 524,119 visitors, breaking the 500,000 mark for the first time in three years.
The increase in visitor traffic was not limited to the more traditional tourist destinations with the National Aquatic Centre becoming the country’s third most popular fee-paying attraction, with 825,049 visits.
The Botanic Gardens saw a drop of 32,000, coming in at just over 500,000 and the National Gallery also experienced a drop in visitors, with just 624,412 compared to the previous year’s 736,855.
The National Museum enjoyed an increase of almost 40,000 in 2011 with 402,582 visiting the Kildare Street attraction.
Fáilte Ireland said it is hoping for a 2 per cent to 7 per cent rise in tourist numbers this year following last year’s increase.