Thursday, 19 September 2019

Questions (68)

Bernard Durkan


68. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which the number of visitors visiting various national historic sites or buildings have been recorded in the past two years to date by county; the degree to which adequate visitor facilities exist in such locations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38005/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Office of Public Works maintains admission records for all Heritage sites in its care where it provides guided visitor services and at certain other, unstaffed, locations where data is recorded by automatic means.  Visitor admissions for the sites managed by the OPW are recorded by reference to a number of methods:

- online ticketing systems;

- traditional countertop ticket sales;

- passive electronic counter.

There are approx 70  sites nationally in OPW care where Guide services are made available on either a seasonal or full-time basis.   A listing of these sites, broken down by County, together with visitor data records for the years 2017 & 2018 is provided in attached table in the link below.   This list also includes a number of sites which are not staffed by Guides but which are open sites available to visit and where footfall is recorded electronically.  Passive counter systems may be deployed either as the sole means of recording footfall or at staffed sites in combination with countertop ticket sales (this will occur where there are separate paid and free visitor offerings; for example a house and grounds; eg Kilkenny Castle). 

The OPW is responsible for managing visitor access to those sites in its care which are owned by the State only.   Certain National Monument sites in care are privately owned and the decision as to whether or not to permit general public access in those cases is a matter for the landowners involved.   If however owners are willing to facilitate access, it remains open to the OPW to measure that footfall using electronic means and this will sometimes be undertaken for conservation management reasons.

Notwithstanding the considerable extent of locations, both staffed and unstaffed sites, which are currently available, it is clear that further visitor potential exists within the portfolio of properties in State care and both the OPW and the Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht remain open to developing such possibilities, either directly themselves, through engagement with the Fáilte Ireland Tourism Capital Development Programme 2016 - 21, or in conjunction with community groups or other stakeholders in local communities.

National Monuments and National Heritage Properties Estate Visitor Data 2017.2018