Overseas visitors holidaying in Ireland’s coastal areas spent €1.94 billion in 2018, while marine tourism generated €650 million in the same period.
That’s according to new research from NUI Galway’s Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU), which also identified activities such as coastal sightseeing, beach and island visits and walking, running and cycling along the coast as most popular among overseas visitors.
SEMRU’s Survey of Marine and Coastal Overseas Tourism Activity in Ireland was funded by the Marine Institute through the National Marine Research Programme as part of a larger project aimed at valuing and understanding the dynamics of Ireland’s ocean economy.
The survey found that while tourism and leisure comprise a key contribution to Ireland’s ocean and coastal economies, there is a gap nationally and internationally in trying to assess its value specific to marine and coastal areas.
SEMRU’s survey suggests that more than three-quarters (76%) of Ireland’s 7.9 million overseas visitors in 2018 are estimated to have visited a coastal area, while 61% are thought to have participated in a marine-related leisure activity.
The average total expenditure per travelling party in the survey sample was €1,630, with the average trip lasting seven days. Of this, an estimated €699 was spent in coastal areas.
The results also indicated that overseas visitors participate in coastal and marine tourism activities largely on the West Coast of Ireland, with Co Kerry leading over Co Galway and Co Clare.
Dr Niall McDonough of the Marine Institute said: “This report by SEMRU provides useful information to stakeholders and policy makers on the value and growth potential of this activity, which is so reliant on our rich coastal and marine resource.
“An analysis of research maturity, completed as part of developing the National Marine Research and Innovation Strategy, showed a gap in research capability in the area of tourism and leisure.
“These findings by SEMRU increase our knowledge in this area. As research in higher education institutions in Ireland is limited, however, the Marine Institute has also included a potential fellowship in its recent Post-Doctoral Fellowship Call.”
Applications under this call are being accepted until next Wednesday 18 September for proposals of three to five years in duration.