Cliffs of Moher visitors exceed 1 million in 2014
Tourism body says increased air routes are encouraging overseas trips to Ireland
Nearly 1.1 million people visited the Cliffs of Moher in 2014, breaking the one million mark for the first time, while the numbers of tourists visiting the west of Ireland continues to grow.
Figures released this week show that 1,075,000 tourists visited Co Clare’s Cliffs of Moher in 2014, an increase of 12.5 per cent since last year.
Eamonn McKeon, chief executive of the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC), says the increase in visitors is due in large part to the growing numbers of tourists travelling from the United States and Canada.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr McKeon said the strength of the US dollar and an overflow from the 2013 Gathering tourism campaign have played an important role in encouraging north American tourists to visit the Republic.
“We had tremendous growth in the pure holiday sector, people who come here singularly for holidays,” said Mr McKeon. “That said, the strongest sector of all was those visiting friends and relatives so there was probably a little bit of fall over from the Gathering of the previous year.”
Asked whether the launch of the Wild Atlantic Way played a role in attracting visitors, Mr McKeon said the tourism industry has yet to witness the real impact of this latest Irish tourist attraction.
“It probably had a marginal impact this year; the Wild Atlantic Way was very well received overseas. But bear in mind it was only launched in the overseas market this year so its impact is yet to come.”
Mr McKeon also attributed the growth in tourism to the number of airlines now flying into Irish airports.
“The final piece of the jigsaw you need to be positive is that the air access is particularly strong and also ferry access from Britain and continental Europe.
“[There are] lots of airplanes flying in here, lots of seats to be sold. Carriers don’t fly empty seats anymore, the price of oil is coming down so jet fuel will be down, air fares will be good and there’s good value on the ground here.”
Katherine Webster, director of the Cliffs of Moher visitor experience, also says the growing number of flights into Shannon Airport has encouraged more people to visit the west coast.
“New routes and increased access onto Shannon Airport, the launch by Fáilte Ireland of the Wild Atlantic Way on which the Cliffs of Moher are a signature discovery point, the popularity of the 12-km Cliffs of Moher coastal walk, and the Cliffs of Moher’s close links with Brian Ború during the millennial anniversary of his death have all contributed to the visitor number increase during 2014,” said Ms Webster.
Tourism Ireland launched its € 1 million 2015 marketing campaign this week which will target audiences in Britain, the US and Continental Europe.
Ads promoting Ireland as a tourist destination began airing last Friday on American television networks ABC, NBC and CBS across seven cities - Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco - during primetime slots. The ads will also air on the PBS network in January and February during season five of Downton Abbey.
The Irish tourism ad campaign will also appear in the Daily Telegraph, the Mail Online, and has already appeared in cinemas in France and Germany, reaching up to four million French and 750,000 German viewers.