Irish heritage sites are worth about €700m as tourist attractions, a study has found.
Research also revealed major historical sites and ancient monuments are sustaining tens of thousands of jobs and are worth about €1.5bn to the economy.
Michael Starrett, the chief executive of the Heritage Council, urged the Government to look at the value of maintaining important structures, archaeological finds, and natural landscapes.
“All the evidence demonstrates that investment in heritage is inherently sustainable [in the] long term, and provides a successful solution to economic recession.
“This report supports that claim and provides evidence of the contribution built heritage makes to jobs and the wider economy.
“Many European countries such as Norway, Slovakia, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands include heritage investments as part of their economic stimulus packages because heritage conservation is recognised as a way of creating jobs which are highly skilled, long term, well paid and crucially of benefit to local economies.”
The report for the Heritage Council by economic consultants Ecorys and Fitzpatrick Associates found that heritage directly supported 25,000 jobs and 40,000 indirectly.
It is estimated that, out of these, 17,000 construction jobs are sustained by work on heritage sites.
The study compared Ireland with Scotland and Wales where heritage is estimated to be worth €2.7bn and €930m respectively to the economies.
The study, Economic Value of Ireland’s Historic Environment, examined the extent and value of two World Heritage Sites — Brú na Bóinne in Co Meath and Skellig Michael off Co Kerry — as well as more than 20 historic buildings, 38,000 protected structures and more than 120,000 structures protected under the National Monuments Act.
Shaun Quinn, Fáilte Ireland CEO, said: “Heritage tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in international tourism and these visitors who are interested in heritage and culture tend to stay longer, visit more places, and spend more per day than tourists in general.”
Chris Whitfield, project director of the research team, said heritage’s value as an economic resource had been misunderstood and underplayed for too long. “It should be important to note that economic impacts attributable to the historic environment are by their nature internal to Ireland and essentially non-exportable.”
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