Record numbers are visiting the country’s leading tourist attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse and the Cliffs of Moher.

Figures for last year show the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin welcomed nearly 1.65m visitors, an increase of 10% over the previous year.

A 14% increase was recorded at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, which received 1,427,166 visitors.

Dublin Zoo was up 3% to 1,143,908, while the National Aquatic Centre got 1,037,992, up 4.5% and the Book of Kells at Trinity College Dublin was seen by 890,781 visitors, an increase of 6%.

890,781 people visited The Book of Kells last year.
890,781 people visited The Book of Kells last year.

Just outside the top five was Tayto Park, Meath, which saw 762,000 enter its gates.

Fota Wildlife Park attracted 465,281 people, ahead of Blarney Castle (420,000) and Bunratty Castle & Folk Park (352,286).

Amongst the country’s free attractions, the National Gallery of Ireland once again led the way, with 755,000 visitors, up 5% from 2015.

The Irish Museum of Modern Art saw the biggest percentage increase (20%) of any attraction in the country, coming second in the free category with 584,856, pushing it just over a thousand ahead of the National Botanic Gardens.

Doneraile Park in Co Cork climbed into the top five with 480,000 visitors, a gain of 11%, slightly in front of the National Museum of Ireland.

Fáilte Ireland chief executive Paul Kelly said visitor attractions are a great barometer for tourism activity and the growth across most attractions reflects a record tourism year.

“This growth can be even stronger if we all work together to unlock the further potential of our natural landscapes and built heritage,” he said. “If we take a site such as the spectacular sea cliffs at Sliabh Liag (Donegal), it has a similar appeal as the Cliffs of Moher, yet the latter receives eight times as many visitors,”

There was a whopping 14% rise in the number of visitors to the Cliffs of Moher, which is Ireland’s second most popular attraction.
There was a whopping 14% rise in the number of visitors to the Cliffs of Moher, which is Ireland’s second most popular attraction.

Mr Kelly said this was just one example of the many of our attractions and natural assets which have the potential to generate even more visitors, revenue and jobs for local communities.

The Fáilte Ireland boss said such attractions are one of the key reasons why many overseas visitors choose Ireland as a destination.

“They create the variety of experiences that make for an enjoyable holiday and are the basis of visitor memories and moments to share that are critical to the growth of tourism in Ireland,” said Mr Kelly.

He added that Fáilte Ireland is committed to investing in its current stock of attractions and developing new ones.

“Our future investment in this regard will be shaped to reap growth in lesser-visited regions with great potential, as well as investing in those experiences which can generate visitor traffic beyond the high season,” he said. “This will help us to to generate revenue and jobs.”

The Natural History Museum, which attracts 317,269 visitors per year, is one of five museums in the top 10 free attractions.
The Natural History Museum, which attracts 317,269 visitors per year, is one of five museums in the top 10 free attractions.

Top attractions

Paid

Guinness Storehouse: 1.6m

Cliffs of Moher: 1.4m

Dublin Zoo: 1.1m

National Aquatic Centre: 1m

Book of Kells: 890,781

Free

National Gallery: 755,577

Museum of Modern Art: 584,856

National Botanic Gardens: 583,539

Doneraile Wildlife Park: 480,000

National Museum of Ireland: 479,261

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