Fully Independent Travellers (FIT) visitors, including walkers, cyclists and those travelling by car or public transport, grew at a rate of 13.5% while group visitors grew by 15%. The greatest growth recorded at the world-famous visitor attraction came in the shoulder and low season with visitor numbers for December up 52% on the same month in 2015.
The Clare County Council owned Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience has undergone substantial investment in product and facilities in recent years while the launch of the 12km Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk and the visitor attractions’ status as a Signature Point along the 2,500km Wild Atlantic Way has contributed to its growing popularity.
The Director of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience said the figures reflect the “huge popularity” of the Cliffs of Moher and how the attraction is now a primary reason for many people choosing to visit Ireland.
While welcoming the increasing popularity of the attraction, Katherine Webster indicated that measures continue to be put in place to sustainably accommodate the numbers.
“Dealing with this number of visitors is not without its challenges and the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience faced capacity issues during peak times throughout the season,” explained Ms. Webster.
She continued, “The majority of people look to visit between 11.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. and consequently, our facilities have at times struggled to cope with the numbers during the peak season. We introduced off-peak pricing for pre-booked groups who come outside of these times in 2014 but it takes time for tour operators to be able to change their itineraries. This was one of the reasons we saw higher growth from this segment as our extended opening hours in the summer allowed above average increases outside of the peak.”
“We have also been targeting our marketing to Fully Independent Travellers for some time to advise them to visit later in the day and avoid the peak time crowds. This has the added benefit to the visitor of a chance to see the Cliffs in the light of the setting sun which is truly spectacular. It also favours those visitors who stay locally. We will continue with these initiatives and others into 2017,” added Ms. Webster.
Commenting on the origin of visitors to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, Ms. Webster said, “The perennially strong US market represents almost one quarter of all visitors. Notably, German visitors to the Cliffs are now in second place exceeding domestic Irish visitors. The UK market shows no sign of any impact from Brexit as yet with growth in 2016 surging to 6.4% of all visitors from 4.6% in 2015. We have also seen higher than average growth from Spain, Australia, China, Poland and India.”