Wild Atlantic Way worth €3bn in annual tourism revenue, says Fáilte Ireland

New report released to coincide with the famous coastal route’s 10th anniversary claims it has helped create tens of thousands of regional jobs

Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, the 2,600km stretch of rugged coastline along the Atlantic seaboard, is now worth €3 billion a year in tourism revenues, according to new economic analysis.

To mark the route’s tenth anniversary, tourism body Fáilte Ireland published a report showing almost 2 million more people visited the Wild Atlantic Way last year than a decade ago, with related spending up 59 per cent.

Launched in 2014 as a tourism-focused response to the financial crash, Fáilte Ireland said the scenic route has become a globally recognised tourism brand and “an economic engine for the west”.

That appears to be borne out by the numbers. As well as increased spending and visitors, the Wild Atlantic Way is estimated to have helped create about 35,000 jobs, according to the report. It is considered Ireland’s “most popular region”, with just over half of all domestic tourism revenue generated there.


“When we compare this internationally, based on the most recent data available, we see that inbound travel to Ireland grew by 45 per cent between 2013 and 2019, well above the Northern European average of 25 per cent,” said Fáilte Ireland chief executive Paul Kelly at the publication of the findings during the industry body’s annual Meitheal trade event in Killarney.

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“The Wild Atlantic Way was a key contributor to this success, with overseas visitor bed-nights in the region growing by 60 per cent across this period.”

A portal into Ireland’s often dramatic landscape, the coastal route has been marketed as one of the longest in the world, stretching from the Inishowen Peninsula in the north to Kinsale in Cork’s south.

It is a veritable where’s-where of postcard Irish tourism, linking Ferris Head, Achill Island and Clew Bay, the Burren, Dingle Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry among a long list of attractions.

Speaking at the Meitheal event, Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin said that, 10 years ago, the launch of the west coast brand had represented a “vision for the future of tourism”.

“This is now a household name and cements Ireland’s reputation as a must-visit tourism destination,” she said.

Its success among foreign visitors has been helped by its background role in various film productions, from the Star Wars franchise to the Banshees of Inisherin.

Tourism Ireland, which markets the country overseas, has been keen to capitalise on its popularity, co-producing more than 20 food and travel TV shows highlighting the coastal attraction, and reaching 450 million viewers in the process. Its promotional push will be stepped up in 14 overseas markets via various media to mark the 10-year anniversary.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times