Spike Island in Co Cork and the Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare are in contention to be named World's Best Attraction at the prestigious International Travel and Tourism Awards. (ITTA)
The awards recognise the outstanding successes of destinations, tourist boards, private sector companies and individuals.
The Irish entries will have to have beat off competition from the Warner Bros Studio Tour London -- The Making of Harry Potter, Dark Sky Alqueva in Portugal, Les Villages Nature Paris, and Sengan-en, Shoko Shuseikan Museum, and Satsuma Kiriko Glassworks Renovation Project in Japan.
Nicole Smart, ITTA Organiser, has expressed delight at the volume and the quality of the entries.
" (The award) contenders hail from across the globe and they demonstrate how tourism is playing a vital role in the economies of different cities and regions.
“Our judges have been greatly impressed by the exceptional quality of entries, and those who are on the shortlist know they have reached a very high standard – they will be among the best in the world."
The award winner will be announced at a gala ceremony in London on November 5th.
Spike Island finished second at the World Travel Awards (WTA) 2017 in Vietnam. They were second only to Machu Picchu in the ‘World’s Leading Tourist Attraction’ category.
The island finished ahead of Mount Kilimanjaro and the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai who were among the nine shortlisted finalists. It also scooped the WTA award for Leading European Tourist Attraction in 2017.
Spike Island was once the largest prison in the world with over 2,300 inmates. The site is worth in excess of €3.5 million to the economy in Cobh and East Cork annually attracting thousands of visitors every year since it reopened in 2016. Fifty people are employed in a part time or full time capacity at the site as tour guides and at the cafe.
The convict prison on Spike Island was seen as “an experiment” when it was opened in 1847 and it became part of the ‘Irish System’ in the 1850’s, which was admired and copied internationally, influencing modern correctional systems in countries as far apart as the US and Germany. It was a a hub for convict transportation.
In July 2010 the island was officially handed over to Cork County Council on behalf of the Department of Justice by then minister for social protection Eamon Ó Cuív.
Meanwhile, visitor numbers at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience increased by 3.8% to 1,580,010 in 2018. Earlier this year the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience was recognised as one of Europe’s Leading Tourist Attractions for 2019 at the World Travel Awards.
The Visitor Experience was nominated for top European attraction alongside London’s Buckingham Palace, Barcelona’s Sagrada Família, Portugal’s Ribeira do Porto and the Colosseum in Rome. Since 2011, they have formed a part of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark, one of a family of geo tourism destinations throughout Europe.The cliffs are a "signature point" on the official Wild Atlantic Way tourist trail.