Mid-West's tourist sector sees major boost in jobs and visitor numbers 

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

The tourism sector in Limerick and the wider Mid-West has seen a rise Picture:  Adrian  Butler

The tourism sector in Limerick and the wider Mid-West has seen a rise Picture: Adrian Butler

MORE THAN 2,500 people have been added to the Mid-West’s tourism workforce over the past five years, according to new Central Statistics Office figures.

Limerick has also attracted an additional 236,000 visitors since 2010, the recently published figures show.

Welcoming the employment numbers in the sector, which now stand at 18,150, Fine Gael Deputy Tom Neville said that they are “hugely positive”.

However, he said, more needs to be done to bring in more tourists to the region.

“I know myself that Limerick has the potential to attract far more visitors. Limerick has so much to offer in terms of history and culture. Visitors to the county have climbed from 332,000 in 2010 to 568,000 in 2016.

“The first seven months of this year have seen over 5.5 million visitors to our shores. Overall trips to Ireland were up 3.1%, compared to the same period in 2016.

“The figures show the number from North American and European visitors continues to surge ahead,” he stated this week. 

Tourism has played a “crucial role” in the recovery of the Irish economy, with the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East contributing to the success, he said.

He added: “In Limerick we can now also use the facilities such as Troy studios to broaden our tourist attraction as we have seen in Kerry due to the success of filming Star Wars. Limerick’s arts and culture is a huge marketing tool in attracting visitors to the area and can give differentiation and added attraction to a niche cohort,” he said. 

Welcoming the new figures, Fine Gael Senator Maria Byrne said that the jobs boost in the Mid-West is “vital to our economy and communications”.

“The Government has also directed Fáilte Ireland to develop the ‘Ireland’s Lakelands’ brand as a separate proposition.

“To assist with sustainability of tourist accommodation and small tourism ventures, a support scheme will be introduced for businesses operating along these routes,” Senator Byrne said. 

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin said that 2017 is on target to be another year for growth and Irish tourism.

“Whilst both Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland are taking steps to assist the industry in this regard, a fundamental factor in continuing to attract British visitors at this stage is value for money.

“It is therefore important now more than ever that the industry retains its competitiveness,” the Minister stated this week.