2016 was a record year for tourism activity in Ireland, according to Failte Ireland, with attendances at heritage sites and fee-paying attractions all showing gains.

In County Clare, the Cliffs of Moher Experience recorded terrific growth of 14% to end the year with 1,427,166 visitors and  was the second most popular fee-paying attraction beaten only by Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse with 1,607,408 paying visitors.

Dublin Zoo, with 1,143,908 visitors finished in third place. Other Clare attractions to feature strongly include Bunratty Folk Park with 341,685 visitors, and Ailwee Cave with 140,000. The National Gallery of Ireland remains the most popular ‘free to enter’ attractions with 755,577 visitors while the Irish Museum of Modern Art saw a surge of visitors, up by 20%, to finish in second place with 584,856 visitors.

Commenting on the figures, Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly said, “Our visitor attractions are a great barometer for tourism activity and the growth across most attractions reflects a record tourism year.  This growth can be even stronger if we all work together to unlock the further potential of our natural landscapes and built heritage.”

Mr Kelly added, “Attractions are one of the key reasons why many overseas visitors choose Ireland as a destination, they create the variety of experiences that make for an enjoyable holiday and are the basis of visitor memories and moments to share that are critical to the growth of tourism in Ireland.”

He said Failte Ireland is committed to investing in the current stock of attractions and developing new ones to help generate revenue and jobs all around the country and all year round.