Cliffs of Moher welcomes one millionth visitor

The one millionth visitor to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience in 2014 has been recorded today (Monday, 20 October 2014), marking the first time that the milestone figure has been reached at the world-famous County Clare visitor attraction.

Rita Shaw from Niceville, Florida, USA, became the one millionth visitor when she arrived at the Cliffs at 11:01 am.

Rita, who is on holiday in Ireland with her husband Stephen, was greeted onsite with music and a champagne reception before being presented with a certificate marking the occasion as well as a €5,000 prize return holiday to County Clare.

2014 marks the fourth successive year of increased visitor numbers to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience with figures for the year so far up 12% on 2013. The Clare County Council owned visitor centre has also seen substantial investment in product and facilities in 2014 with a spend of over €600,000 on additional coach parking facilities, new exhibition content, restoration works in O’Brien’s Tower and a redesign of the foyer at the visitor centre. .

First Citizen of County Clare, Councillor John Crowe, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council was amongst the first to congratulate Rita on being the millionth visitor. The Cathaoirleach also praised the Cliffs of Moher for playing “a leading role in the Irish tourism sector’s recovery during recent years”.

“It is a tremendous asset for the west coast of Ireland to have a tourist attraction of the calibre of the Cliffs and the only attraction in the country outside of the Dublin area to attract such numbers.  The Council’s vision in developing the centre and its continued investment in facilities has greatly enhanced the overall visitor experience at what is arguably now the flagship of Irish tourism and one of Europe’s most visited tourist locations, the challenge now is to continue to manage sustainable tourism growth that fully respects the outstanding natural characteristics of the site” stated Councillor Crowe.

Katherine Webster, Director of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience said the visitor growth is the result of “a perfect storm of positive factors combining to drive visitor numbers over the one million mark.”

She explained: “New routes and increased access into Shannon Airport, the launch by Failte Ireland of the Wild Atlantic Way on which the Cliffs of Moher are a Signature Discovery point, the popularity of the 12-kilometre Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk, and the Cliffs of Moher’s close links with Brian Ború during the millennial anniversary of his death have all contributed to the visitor number increase during 2014. Meanwhile, strong performances from the core North American, UK, German and French markets have added to the growth seen in newer markets such as Australia, China and South America.”

Ms Donnagh Gregson, Chair of the Clare Tourism Forum spoke about the “strength and quality” of the tourism product in Clare and expressed her confidence that visitor numbers throughout the County will be sustained during 2015.

“County Clare has everything a visitor could wish for including direct access via Shannon International Airport, the best quality of every category of accommodation, adventure activities to suit all interests, incredible food and some of the country’s iconic sights like the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher. It should not be too challenging to sustain our visitor numbers in 2015 and the years ahead,” concluded Ms. Gregson.

The €5,000 holiday awarded to the one millionth visitor today includes flights from the United States to Shannon in 2015, car rental from Budget Car Rental, accommodation in some of the county’s finest locations including Dromoland Castle, Deelin Mor Lodge in Carran, Cragmoher House in Corofin, Doolin Hostel and Sea View House in Doolin. The prize also includes dinner for two in the Stonecutters Kitchen near the Cliffs, a side of Burren Smokehouse salmon, a private guided walk with Tony Kirby from Heart of Burren Walks, a canvas print of the Cliffs of Moher by Doreen Drennan, a banquet at Bunratty Castle as well as admission to the Folk Park, electric bike hire for two from e-Whizz in Kilfenora, a wild food foraging walk from Wild Kitchen in Lahinch, a pass to Doolin Cave with lunch, a family pass to the Burren Nature Sanctuary in Kinvara and a guided walk from Burren Guided Walks in Fanore.

Construction of the state-of-the-art underground visitor centre building and associated site facilities at the Cliffs of Moher 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. 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-supported Global Geopark network.

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