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Cliffs visitor numbers exceed four million in first five years

Date issued: 22/02/12

Over four million people have visited the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience in County Clare since February 2007, new figures have shown.

The tourism landmark experienced a 12% increase in visitor numbers during 2011, significantly higher than the national increase in tourist numbers of just 7% last year. 809,474 people visited the Cliffs last year compared to 720,574 in 2010.

The Mayor of Clare will join tourism interests from throughout the region to mark the world famous visitor attraction's 5th anniversary today. A series of celebratory events take place at the visitor centre throughout the day, while Mayor Pat Hayes also will launch the 2012 Cliffs of Moher multilingual brochure and map.

Construction of the state of the art underground visitor centre building and associated site facilities commenced after Clare County Council awarded a €22 million contract in 2005. The contract provided for the construction of the new centre, the upgrading of walkways and viewing areas along the cliff edge, site landscaping and ancillary works. 

The development, which was part financed through the European Regional Development Fund under the National Development Plan 2000 - 2006, was officially opened in February 2007. Since then, the iconic O'Brien's Tower has been reopened having undergone restoration and conservation works.

Mayor Hayes said the new centre and associated facilities have greatly enhanced the overall visitor experience at the Cliffs of Moher. He said the project has given County Clare and the wider region a significant economic boost through the generation of full-time and season employment, as well the knock on effects for other tourism interests.

Mayor Hayes added: "This flagship tourism project has performed exceptionally well during recent years when tourism as a whole across Ireland and the world has experienced considerable difficulties. This achievement is a tribute to each of the partner agencies involved in the delivery of this project, and of course the staff of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience and their innovative and progressive approach to promoting one of Ireland's finest tourism assets."

Katherine Webster, Director of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience said that visitor numbers have exceeded all expectations despite the general downturn in the domestic economy and in the global tourism sector.

Ms. Webster continued: "The Cliffs of Moher have continued to perform strongly in comparison to other leading Irish tourism destinations, which is a testament to their longstanding international reputation, and of course the improved facilities that have been delivered at the site in recent years. The growth in domestic visitor numbers also is very encouraging".

Ms. Webster noted that strong performance of the visitor attraction had been achieved in part through high profile media coverage.

In May 2007 six million American television viewers tuned in for a live broadcast from the Cliffs of Moher on NBC's The Today Show. The cliffs also featured in scenes from the Hollywood blockbuster, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Among the celebrities that have visited the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience since it opened in 2007 are Hollywood film director Steven Spielberg, King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium, Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, Irish football manager Giovanni Trapattoni, broadcaster Gay Byrne, Ireland and Munster rugby player Paul O'Connell, and hundreds of ambassadors, overseas dignitaries, EU delegations, Oireachtas members and other politicians.

The Cliffs of Moher's reputation as a leading tourism landmark has been further enhanced by the site's inclusion as a finalist in the New 7 Wonders of Nature online global contest. In 2011, the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren region of North Clare also were awarded the prestigious designation of membership of the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) supported global geopark network.

The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience project has received several awards including 'Best Irish Visitor Attraction' at the 2009 Irish Consumer Travel Awards, numerous honours at the Institute of Designers in Ireland Exhibition in both 2007 and 2008, an Association of Heritage and Interpretation (AHI) Interpret Britain and Ireland award in 2007, and three successive CIE Tours International Excellence awards. The 2011 award was presented to Cliffs Director Katherine Webster at a ceremony in Dublin on the 7th February.

The Cliffs of Moher also were among the first Irish visitor attractions to receive independently audited eco-tourism accreditation from two bodies, namely the Eco-Tourism Ireland Gold Accreditation for the Guided Nature Walk at the Cliffs in 2011 and a three star award from Sustainable Travel International under the organisation's Sustainable Travel Eco-certification Program (STEP).

Accessibility measures at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience also have been hailed by disability groups including the Disabled People of Clare (DPOC) and People with Disabilities in Ireland (PWDI). The site received an Excellence through Accessibility award from the National Disability Authority in 2011.

More information on the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience is available on the Cliffs of Moher website

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Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 22/02/12