Tour guide: Ring is king but capital is punishing

DUBLIN is one of the least popular places - and among the most favoured - in Ireland for tourists to visit according to a survey of more than 1,100 visitors from the US, Canada, Britain and Europe.

Online company, DoChara.com also found that tourists found narrow, twisting roads and drunken people on streets at night particularly off-putting.

Also among the least popular Irish tourist destinations were Galway city, Killarney and Cork city.

However, the survey revealed that among the most positive aspects of Ireland were friendly people, scenery and good food, while the thumbs down was given to high prices, poor roads, drunkenness on the streets and over-development of scenic areas.

Fáilte Ireland spokeswoman Mary Cosgrave commented that the survey findings were contradictory in parts, with Dublin for example figuring both among the most favoured and most unpopular destinations.

“The most important thing about these surveys is how and where the people were interviewed. It’s important to know if they had actually been to all of these places, or whether they were depending on images, or things they had heard,” she said.

Ms Cosgrave, however, agreed that visitor attitude surveys commissioned by Fáilte showed that tourists commented on poor signposting and the quality of secondary roads.

In a 2000 survey, 26% commented on bad roads, but this figure was down to 19% by 2004. Numbers commenting on signposting over the same period dropped by from 11% to 9%.

Officially, the top ten, pay-in visitor attractions (in order according to Bord Fáilte) are: Dublin Zoo, Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College/Book of Kells, Bunratty, Waterford Crystal, Fota Wildlife Park, Blarney Castle, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Rock of Cashel and Bru na Boinne.

Killarney Town Council’s representative on the Cork/ Kerry Tourism board and Killarney Tourism promotions officer, Michael Courtney, maintained that the finding in relation to Killarney, was contradictory as the town is a major part of the 110-mile Ring of Kerry. “The Ring begins and ends in Killarney and most people who travel it stay in Killarney. You cannot separate Killarney from the Ring and that’s why this particular finding is so hard to understand.”

However, he said all surveys had to be taken seriously and note taken of what visitors were saying.

And Mr Courtney said he was also worried about over-development - yesterday he made a call for a curb on high-rise buildings and over-development in Killarney, amid growing concerns about the attractiveness of the town.

“I believe it’s time we had a serious look at way we’re going in regard to high-rise buildings, apartments and townhouses. We’ve enough of those in Killarney now. You can’t see the mountains any more from many parts of the town because views are blocked off by these high buildings,” he said.

Killarney mayor Tom Doherty said: “I’d dispute these findings because they were ascertained through an internet website. Anyone from anywhere can put information into the site. It’s possible the survey could be highly inaccurate. It could be the same people putting in the same information a number of times.”

Mr Doherty said the fact that Killarney was generally busy and full of people was a good sign.

“We must be mindful at all times of keeping a balance between development and protecting the environment.

“Issues such as illegal dumping in scenic areas have to be confronted,” he added.

A website operated from a Kilkenny base, www.dochara.com, says it is independent of all tourism bodies and tourism interests and provides advice and tips for people visiting Ireland.

10 Most popular places in Ireland according to the do.chara.com survey.

1. The Ring of Kerry

2. The Burren & Cliffs of Moher

3. Dublin city: Grafton Street was most often mentioned closely followed by Christ Church and Dublin Castle.

4. Dingle

5. Newgrange

6. Galway city

7. The North Antrim Coast/Giant’s Causeway

8. Kilkenny city

9. Connemara

10. Glendalough

10 worst things about Ireland

1. High prices

2. Narrow/twisting roads

3. Heavy traffic

4. Visitor centre stores

5. Poor road signs

6. Litter in some towns

7. Small hotel rooms

8. People drunk on the streets at night

9. Overdevelopment of some scenic areas

10. Laundrettes hard to find.

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