Activity tourism has 'huge potential'


SURVEY:HIKING TOURISTS spent almost €150 million in Ireland last year, according to new figures.

Hiking remains by far the most popular active pastime for activity holidaymakers. It accounted for 173,000 dedicated overseas visitors in 2010 and a net spend of €148 million.

Dedicated angling tourism accounted for 73,000 visitors last year and these tourists spent €58 million while cycling tourism accounted for 58,000 visitors and this group spent €57 million.

Despite Ireland’s growing reputation as one of the world’s best cold water surfing nations, there is plenty of scope for growth is this area as only 52,000 visitors came exclusively for water-based activities spending €46 million.

The figures are contained in a report presented by Fáilte Ireland’s head of policy and futures Brian Maher which was delivered to the 2011 Outdoor Adventure and Activity Forum in Westport this week.

“Overall, we are doing well,” he said. “We have significant potential, particularly in walking which has grown exponentially, and cycling is improving all the time.”

Maher said Fáilte Ireland is working on a new marine tourism strategy. He maintained there was a “huge potential” to develop water-based activities from cabin cruising to fishing, sailing, windsurfing, sub-aqua and surfing.

“One of Ireland’s great strengths has been in angling. There is still tremendous potential there for that core group of anglers. It is incumbent on us to develop this and other water-based activities properly because there is so much potential there.”

Activity tourism is a rapidly growing part of the global tourism market and accounts for €830 million worth of business in Ireland every year with more than 930,000 tourists participating in some activity holiday.

According to the Adventure Tourism Development Index 2010, Ireland was ranked seventh among the top 10 developed countries in the world with the highest adventure tourism potential. However, Ireland does not feature in the top 10 nations in Europe in terms of attracting activity tourists.