Crowding issues as Cliffs of Moher clock record visitor numbers
Wild Atlantic Wonder
A record 1,427,166 people visited the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience during 2016, it has been announced.
The figures, boosted by a tourism upturn, extended summer opening hours and the Wild Atlantic Way, represent a 14pc increase on 2015.
US tourists accounted for one quarter of all visitors, with German tourists in second place - both exceeding domestic Irish visitor numbers.
The booming number of visits reflects the “huge popularity” of the Cliffs of Moher, according to director Katherine Webster, who says the coastal attraction is now a primary reason for many people choosing to visit Ireland.
The crowds have brought their challenges, however.
With throngs teeming around the visitor centre, cliff paths and access roads in peak season, sustainability is under the spotlight.
“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,” Ms. Webster acknowledged in a statement.
Most visitors look to arrive between 11am and 4pm, she added.
In an effort to combat the peak-time squeeze, the Clare County Council-owned attraction has introduced off-peak pricing for pre-booked groups.
The benefits of such an approach are slowly being seen, with the greatest growth during 2016 seen in the shoulder and low seasons - with visitor numbers for December up 52pc on the same month in 2015, for example.
A 12km coastal walk has also been launched in recent years, as part of a "substantial investment" in product and facilities at the attraction.
Marketing to fully independent travellers also advises them to visit later in the day and avoid peak time crowds, Webster added.
"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,” Webster concluded.
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