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New national 'Tourism Day' sees free entry to top Irish visitor attractions

Ireland's first ever 'Tourism Day' has been announced for April 17, an initiative described as 'a Culture Night for tourism'

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L-R: Laina Lynch; Niamh Ghent; Theo Bailey and Broadcaster Mary Kennedy at the official launch of Tourism Day, an industry initiative supported by Fáilte Ireland. Photo: JULIEN BEHAL PHOTOGRAPHY.

L-R: Laina Lynch; Niamh Ghent; Theo Bailey and Broadcaster Mary Kennedy at the official launch of Tourism Day, an industry initiative supported by Fáilte Ireland. Photo: JULIEN BEHAL PHOTOGRAPHY.

Malahide Castle. Photo: Brian Morrison / Fáilte Ireland

Malahide Castle. Photo: Brian Morrison / Fáilte Ireland

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L-R: Laina Lynch; Niamh Ghent; Theo Bailey and Broadcaster Mary Kennedy at the official launch of Tourism Day, an industry initiative supported by Fáilte Ireland. Photo: JULIEN BEHAL PHOTOGRAPHY.

Ireland's first ever Tourism Day will see over 100 top tourist attractions open free of charge to the public on Friday, April 17.

Participating attractions include the Guinness Storehouse, where entry usually starts from €19.50pp, Malahide Castle (from €12.60 online) and the Cliffs of Moher, where an adult ticket costs up to €8pp at peak times.

Dozens of OPW sites have signed up for the initiative, officially launched by former Nationwide presenter Mary Kennedy today, which will see free tickets, special complimentary tours and bespoke events on the day.

Other opportunities for free visits include King John’s Castle in Limerick (normally charging adults from €11.70 online), Spike Island in Cork (from €20) and Westport House (from €12.85).

Members of the public can now log on to tourismday.ie to search the full list of activities and pre-register for tickets - something that should be done early, as popular attractions are likely to book up quickly.

"Tourism Day is a chance for the public to explore a tourist attraction that they may not have visited before, or somewhere they would like to bring a friend or family member," said Eoghan O’ Mara Walsh, CEO of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC), which is organising the industry initiative with the support of Fáilte Ireland.

Countries like India, England, the US and Canada already run national tourism days, and the Irish effort hopes to echo these in a more consumer-facing way - highlighting Ireland's range of tourist attractions and an industry that employs 260,000 people.

April 17 falls during the Easter school holidays, O'Mara Walsh pointed out - the ideal excuse for families to explore the treasures on their doorstep.

He described the event as like a "Culture Night for tourism".

Ireland's first Tourism Day will also coincide with Fáilte Ireland's new domestic marketing campaign, 'Keep Discovering' - a €6m blitz launched last week to throw the spotlight on staycations.

With almost 10 million overseas visitors and 12 million domestic and Northern Ireland trips in 2019, the Irish tourism sector generated revenue of some €7.5 billion last year. Threats from Brexit, the coronavirus, falling air capacity and international competition make that income far from secure, however.

"Tourism is a wonderful teacher and I hope people take the opportunity of free admission to get out there and explore Ireland,” Mary Kennedy said, launching the event at MoLI, Dublin's new museum of literature.

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