LOOP HEAD Tourism chairman, Cillian Murphy says that a recent LEADER-sponsored study has calculated that geological group visits to the peninsula are worth up to €1.5m to the West Clare economy. He says that geological visits have increased by approximately 30% this year.
“We had a study done with the help of LEADER funding to look at putting a geology centre on the peninsula. Part of the study looked at where the companies were coming from and how much they spent. The estimate was that each trip is worth somewhere in the region of €50,000. That’s direct spend in here. That’s not left in an office in Houston. That’s bills paid on the peninsula. Definitely we have seen between 20 and 25 trips this summer,” Cillian Murphy revealed.
“Anecdotally, I would think that we’re up about 30% this year. That’s group visits. Loop Head is now a very attractive proposition for the petro-chemical industry to come and look at the geological formations here,” he added.
The tourism chairman says that expansion of US routes from Shannon Airport has played a central role in this increase.
“It’s because Shannon airport is providing a really high level of connectivity out to the world. There are a couple of other sites in the world that have the same rock formations but accessing them is quite hard. These guys can fly into Shannon airport and easily reach Kilkee which is 20 minutes from being on site in the peninsula. We’ve seen that geology trips are increasing but we have to put some of that down to Shannon Airport’s increased connectivity to the US. That has definitely put us a little higher on the step ladder of areas of visit. It’s simply easier to get here,” Cillian Murphy explained.
“The geology trips to the peninsula are probably the single biggest stream of overseas money that comes to the peninsula. They are often corporate groups of up to 25 people who take single occupancy rooms. They all eat out every night, eat lunch and hire local mini buses to transport them,” he noted.
While geology trips do not involve a huge amount of people, they often happen during off peak times.
“From our point of view they are great business and they are easy on the landscape. It’s a real niche tourism product. There are never going to be a million people visiting but we would like to see maybe the numbers go from 700 up to 2,000.
“These guys are not interested in being here from the end of July until the end of August. They want to be here when it’s that little bit quieter and that suits us down here,” Cillian Murphy concluded.
By Owen Ryan