Numbers visiting Clare’s flagship tourism attractions at the Cliffs of Moher as well as Bunratty Castle and Folk Park tumbled last year, figures just released by Fáilte Ireland reveal.
The top attraction in the country two years before, the Cliffs of Moher has slipped to third place behind the Guinness Storehouse and Dublin Zoo. But while falling behind the Dublin attractions, the Cliffs brought in money on the double, with the Atlantic Edge interpretative centre prompting visitors to pay admission charges for a second time.
While the fall in visitor numbers at the Cliffs was down by 3% last year, the flagship attraction fell further behind the Dublin competition.
In 2007, the Cliffs stood second and just over 6,000 behind the Guinness Storehouse. But the 808,310 level of paying customers at the Cliffs last year was more than 100,000 behind Dublin Zoo and more than 200,000 behind the Guinness attraction.
While visitor volumes were down by just short of 32,000 on the previous year, the Cliffs did profit from a second stream of revenue. The Atlantic Edge attraction, which is an optional extra at the Cliffs comple attracted 166,000 paying visitors in 2008 and brought a third Clare attraction into the top 20 rankings when securing 20th place.
The news was worse for Bunratty Castle and Folk Park that followed a slump in castle banquets attendances last year with its lowest daytime visitor numbers for the previous seven years.
Numbers feasting at Bunratty and its sister castles at medieval banquets and traditional Irish nights fell below 100,000 to record its lowest figures since the 1970s, the Shannon Development 2008 Annual Report revealed in mid-year.
The latest figures show that daytime visitors last year numbered 305,557. That was an 11 per cent decrease on the previous year when Bunratty had staged the latest of a series of recoveries in attendance numbers. But the 2008 figures were below the previous low of 307,145 in 2003.
Once ranked as one of the top three visitor attractions in the country, Bunratty fell further down the rankings last year, slipping one place to tenth in the top 20 ranking table. That demotion was due to the entry of Dublin Castle as a new admission charge visitor attraction that brought the number of Dublin-based visitor attractions among the country’s top 10 to a total of six.