Wild Atlantic Way drives €3bn in revenues on west coast

The Wild Atlantic Way, the tourism brand developed by Fáilte Ireland 10 years ago, has delivered thousands of jobs and billions of euros in revenues.

Launched to the tourism industry by Fáilte Ireland at Meitheal in response to the global financial crisis, the Wild Atlantic Way has over the last decade become a globally recognised tourism brand and has become an economic engine for the west of Ireland. 

According to a new report launched during the 2024 Meitheal where more than 380 Irish tourism businesses are pitching to more than 240 international buyers, nearly 2m more visitors visited the Wild Atlantic Way in 2023 compared with 2013.

“Tourism is now worth €3bn per year to the region.  This growth has contributed to the creation of an additional 35,000 jobs in local communities, with tourism now supporting 121,000 jobs across the region”

Tourism is now worth €3bn per year on the Wild Atlantic Way, an increase of 59% on 2013, and this growth has contributed to the creation of an additional 35,000 jobs, with tourism now supporting 121,000 jobs across the region.

Economic boost from Malin head to Kinsale

“This year, Meitheal is particularly special as we mark the 10th anniversary of the Wild Atlantic Way,” said Catherine Martin, TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

“Ten years ago, a vision for the future of tourism in Ireland was launched, a route that stretched for 2,500 kilometres along our rugged Atlantic Coast. This is now a household name and cements Ireland’s reputation as a must-visit tourism destination, and I commend Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland on their work in driving this success over the last 10 years.” 

“For a small island, we have a huge amount to offer from world-class scenery, hospitality, activities, attractions, culture, heritage, and food. It is fantastic to see so many businesses at Meitheal this year to showcase the richness of our tourism offering to these international buyers and tour operators.”

Future pipeline of tourism business

“We are proud to mark the 10th anniversary of the Wild Atlantic Way at Meitheal this year and reflect on a brand that has had a truly transformative impact on the economy of the west coast,” said Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland.

“The Wild Atlantic Way generates employment and revenue for businesses and communities from Malin Head to Kinsale, and continues to be a key motivator for domestic and international visitors. 

“Tourism is now worth €3bn per year to the region.  This growth has contributed to the creation of an additional 35,000 jobs in local communities, with tourism now supporting 121,000 jobs across the region.  Domestically, the Wild Atlantic Way is our most popular region with 51% of all domestic tourism revenue being generated there.  

“When we compare this internationally, based on the most recent data available, we see that inbound travel to Ireland grew by 45% between 2013 and 2019, well above the Northern European average of 25%. And the Wild Atlantic Way was a key contributor to this success with overseas visitor bednights in the region growing by 60% across this period.”

Kelly said that Fáilte Ireland has invested significantly in the tourism product on the Wild Atlantic Way over the last decade, supporting the industry to create a truly unique offering that inspires visitors to stay longer and spend more.

“It is all the more special to celebrate this occasion at Meitheal, where the brand was originally launched to the tourism industry ten years ago. The international buyers at Meitheal this week will experience first-hand the depth, breadth, and quality of the Irish tourism product, both on the Wild Atlantic Way and our other regional brands – Ireland’s Ancient East, Dublin and Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, and I have no doubt they will leave Meitheal 2024 with many new additions to itineraries and countless reasons to sell Ireland to their clients.”

Ancient heartlands

Meitheal, which has been running since 1975 gets underway today at the Gleneagle INEC in Killarney, Co.Kerry, will see over 380 Irish tourism partners pitch to 241 international buyers and tour operators from around the world. Throughout this week, international buyers have been experiencing first-hand the tourism product of Ireland ahead of attending Meitheal. Tourism experiences from across Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, and Dublin, were included on bespoke itineraries designed by Fáilte Ireland with the objective of showcasing the best of the Irish tourism offering and showcasing the unique holiday experience that awaits visitors to Ireland. 

“The landscape and culture go back millennia, yet it’s 10 years since the Wild Atlantic Way was launched as a route, with credit due to our partners in Fáilte Ireland, local government and communities,” said Alice Mansergh, CEO of Tourism Ireland.

“At Tourism Ireland, we’ve loved making the Wild Atlantic Way famous overseas! We captured behind-the-scenes interviews with the stars of Normal People, Banshees of Inisherin and Star Wars, as they filmed along the route, inspiring screen tourism. Tourism Ireland has co-produced 22 food and travel focused TV shows highlighting the Wild Atlantic Way, reaching 450 million in viewership around the world, with hosts like Donal Skehan and John Torode.

“Bringing journalists to experience the scenery, heritage and culture along the route has led to coverage in publications like The Guardian, The New York Times and National Geographic, adding up over the years to an ‘equivalent advertising value’ of over 1 billion euros. As we mark 10 years, we’ll be showcasing what the Wild Atlantic Way has to offer across 14 markets around the world, through a mix of TV, digital and social channels. We invite everyone to get involved in this special birthday, sharing their favourite photos of the route to wish ‘Happy 10th Birthday to Ireland’s #WildAtlanticWay’.”

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