PRELIMINARY tourism figures show that 850,000 overseas visitors travelled to the Shannon Region last year.
According to Shannon Development’s 2011 Annual Report, the figures represent an increase of 11.7% compared to 2010.
Shannon Development which is to be merged with the new Shannon Airport Authority next year says its subsidiary, Shannon Heritage, performed well during 2011 - contributing €15m to the local economy.
The company, which operates sites such as King John’s Castle and Bunratty Castle, catered for almost half a million visitors and, during the peak tourism season, employed 280 people.
Speaking following the publication of the annual report, Dr Vincent Cunnane, CEO of Shannon Development said he was pleased with the figures.
“We are delighted with these preliminary results which clearly reflect the hard work that is being done on the ground and internationally to promote this region as a premier tourist destination. Over the past four years tourism initiatives undertaken directly by the company have delivered a direct economic benefit of almost €160 million for the region’s tourism industry,” he said.
According to Shannon Development, the number of jobs losses at the Shannon Free Zone stabilised in 2011.
There were 406 new jobs created at the Free Zone last year and the net number of job losses was 174.
Jobs in indigenous companies at the Shannon Free Zone continued to grow and at the end of 2011 there were 1,045 people employed by indigenous companies.
“During the year Shannon Free Zone companies generated almost €3 billion in sales, over 90% of these were to export markets. Shannon Free Zone continued to be a major economic driver for the region employing over 7,700 people in 100 companies which contributed over €600 million to the Irish and Shannon Region economies,” said Dr Cunnane.
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, has welcomed the figures contained in the annual report.
“There are many impressive achievements reflected in the results, and I commend all involved on their delivery. Like the rest of the economy, the Shannon region continues to face significant challenges, but people and organisations in the region are determined to meet them. My hope is that with continued focus on the region from Government we can build on these achievements and create a bright future for the Shannon region” he said.