- Top fee-paying attractions:
- Guinness Storehouse – 1,647,408 (+10pc)
- Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience – 1,427,166 (+14pc)
- Dublin Zoo – 1,143,908 (+3pc)
- National Aquatic Centre – 1,037,992 (+4.5pc)
- Book of Kells – 890,781 (+6pc)
- Top free attractions:
- The National Gallery of Ireland – 755,577 (+5pc)
- Irish Museum of Modern Art – 584,856 (+20pc)
- National Botanic Gardens – 583,539 (+5.5pc)
- Doneraile Wildlife Park – 480,000 (+11pc)
- National Museum of Ireland – 479,261 (+4.8pc)
Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse remains in top spot as Ireland’s most-visited tourist attraction – but sites outside the capital showed the biggest growth at up to +132pc.
The latest figures, released by Fáilte Ireland, showed that the Guinness Storehouse experienced a 10pc jump in visitors last year – 1.6m in total.
Among the free attractions, Kilmacurragh Gardens in Wicklow had a surge in visitor numbers – jumping 132pc from 67,083 in 2015 to 156,045 last year. The National Museum in Collins Barracks rose 39pc, from 295,820 to 411,391, but Farmleigh was among the few to suffer a drop in visitor numbers, down 7pc from 410,076 to 383,335.
Among the fee-paying attractions, Castletown House & Gardens, in Celbridge, Co Kildare, surged by 84,000, from 2977,691 to 547,324. Kylemore Abbey in Connemara rose 53pc, from 300,000 to 458,000, while Powerscourt House & Gardens in Co Wicklow had a 47pc jump, from 249,475 to 467,507.
The Office of Public Works said the figures show a total of 6.6m visitors to OPW-managed heritage sites in 2016. Its leading visitor sites include the Rock of Cashel (up by 38,081 to 338,830 visitors); Dublin Castle, up to 253,786 visitors; while Trim Castle welcomed 101,127 visitors in 2016, up 14,155.
The release of the figures comes less than a week after a bid to get all attractions under one umbrella, with the launch of the Association of Visitor Experiences & Attractions, chaired by Paul Carty, Managing Director of the Guinness Storehouse.
“Our 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,” said Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly.
“If we take a site such as the spectacular sea cliffs at Sliabh Liag, it has a similar appeal as the Cliffs of Moher – yet the latter receives eight times as many visitors. This is 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.
“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.”