independent

Thursday 27 November 2014

Doneraile Park could join top tourist attractions

BILL BROWNE

Published 12/07/2014 | 12:00

DONERAILE PARK could be on the verge of joining the list of Ireland's top tourist attractions after a detailed survey of visitor numbers to the venue returned some surprising results.

DONERAILE PARK could be on the verge of joining the list of Ireland's top tourist attractions after a detailed survey of visitor numbers to the venue returned some surprising results.

The survey, undertaken by the Office of Public Works (OPW) involved the monitoring of visitor numbers to Doneraile Park over the past year.

The results revealed that figures showed between 280,000 to 300,000 visits were made to Doneraile Park in 2013 - with projections anticipating this figure will increase to as high as 360,000 during 2014.

The figures compare favourably to those included on list recently released by Bord Failte, which unveiled Irelands top 10 fee-charging and free attraction during 2013.

While Doneraile Park has some way to go to catch up with the country's leading fee - charging attraction the Guinness Storehouse, which pulled in 1,517,000 visitors during 2013, the projected figure for 2014 is in line with many other well-known sites.

For example the Fota attracted 365,396 visitors during 2013, Blarney Castle 365,000 and Kilmainham Gaol 326,207.

The survey showed that if the estimates of 360,000 for 2014 are achieved, Doneraile Park would become Ireland's fifth most popular free tourist attraction ahead of the likes of the National Library and the National Museum in Collins Barracks.

Willie Pat Hallihan, chair of the Doneraile Development Association (DAA) said the figures showed the policy of developing the Park over the past three-years had paid off.

"It is heartening to see this effort being paid off with an estimated 20% year-on-year increase in visitor numbers," said Mr Hallihan.

"We are satisfied this is the engine that will sustain Doneraile into the future and put the park on a national platform alongside major established attractions," he said.

Tourism groups across the region have welcomed the figures, with Fiona Buckley of Fáilte Ireland said the parks unique offering of more than 400-years of demonstrable garden evolution sets it apart from any other attraction in Ireland or the UK.

She said this presents an ideal opportunity for Doneraile Park to collaborate with other visitor sites in order to attract overseas visitors.

"We see compatibility with other big attractions in the region such as Bunratty Park, the Rock of Cashel, Blarney and Muckross. There is a significant opportunity here for these sites, public and private, to collaborate closely on international marketing," said Ms Buckley.

Corkman

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