Limerick lures new wave of domestic tourists

Limerick surged in popularity as a destination for staycations last year but neighbouring Clare fell out of favour with domestic tourists.

Limerick lures new wave of domestic tourists

New figures show the overall number of domestic trips by Irish holidaymakers grew almost 3% last year to over 9.6m — an extra 267,000 breaks over 2016 levels.

Dublin remains the most popular destination for holiday breaks for Irish travellers with almost 1.5m trips last year — an annual increase of 4.5%.

However, the number of domestic holidaymakers visiting the capital has been generally in decline since 2012 when the figure stood at over 1.6m.

Cork held on to its position as the second favourite destination for a staycation with over 1.1m trips in 2017, although numbers were down 5.5% on the previous year.

Galway is the only other county to record over 1m domestic trips last year with numbers up 0.5% to 1.02m.

According to figures published by the Central Statistics Office, the least visited part of the Republic by domestic holidaymakers is Roscommon/Longford with just 130,000 trips recorded across both counties last year — down over 4% on 2016 levels.

Limerick recorded the biggest rate of increase in the number of domestic trips last year — up 73,000 to 284,000 — an annual increase of almost 35%.

In contrast, neighbouring Clare suffered the biggest fall in the number of domestic trips — down 61,000 to 362,000 — a drop of over 14%.

Several Midland counties also witnessed a strong growth in domestic visitor numbers in 2017 including Laois, Offaly, Tipperary, Kildare and Carlow.

Along the Wild Atlantic Way, Kerry and Sligo were the biggest winners with domestic trips to the Kingdom up 14% to 964,000 and to Sligo up 11% to 247,000.

The CSO figures show the number of domestic trips has risen continuously each year since 2012 in tandem with economic growth with the overall number of staycations up 16% compared to five years ago — with people taking an extra 1.3m breaks in 2017.

However, they also reveal that the number of overnight stays by Irish holidaymakers fell last year despite the overall increase in domestic tourist numbers.

A total of 25.5m overnight stays were recorded in 2017 — about 60,000 fewer than the previous year.

While the average length of a domestic trip remained the same as 2016 levels at 2.7 overnights — the figures reveal a trend towards more but shorter mini-breaks.

Laura Ryan, head of communications and marketing with Limerick city and county council, said the results represented great news for the Mid-West region.

“It’s a reward for a heavy marketing campaign pushing Limerick as a place to stay, especially as a gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way,” Ms Ryan said.

“Accommodation in Limerick can be comparatively cheaper than some other counties along the coast yet we’re still a relatively short travelling distance from places like the Cliffs of Moher.”

Ms Ryan said the reopening of the five-star Adare Manor last year after being closed for 18 months was a further attraction.

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