Tourism firm to end 4 years of losses

The tourism firm that operates a host of high-profile tourist attractions, including Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, expects to break even this year after four years of combined losses totalling almost €700,000.

Accounts filed by the tourism subsidiary of Shannon Development, Shannon Heritage, show that losses at the firm narrowed significantly, from €176,987 to €24,578, in the 12 months to the end of December last.

Losses at Shannon Castle Banquets and Heritage Ltd between 2008 and 2011 total €695,862.

Abridged figures show that the firm’s gross profit last year increased from €6.5m to €6.7m.

Chief executive John Ruddle said: “Shannon Heritage should break even in 2012 which is a very good result given the last four years of very difficult trading. We are very satisfied with a solid result in very difficult circumstances.”

Mr Ruddle said: “2012 figures are up 3.5% in visitor numbers against 2011. Banquets are up 2% and day visitors up 3.7%.”

The figures show that visitor numbers to the firm’s most popular tourist attraction, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, last year increased from 263,336 to 275,986.

Mr Ruddle said turnover is also up on 2011 “and the company has continued its very strong cost minimisation strategy and careful management through a very volatile period”.

Shannon Heritage also operates St John’s Castle in Limerick and a complete revamp of the visitor experience is expected to open to visitors in early 2013.

The directors’ report states that “the domestic tourism position is still very weak and will take a number of years to recover ground”.

On future developments, the directors’ report states that “the company is continuing to add to the wide range of activities held at all of its sites.

“Due to the worldwide economic downturn, all opportunities are being explored to create new business opportunities.”

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