In early October 2023, 60 lighthouse, marine and tourism leaders met for the three-day Great Lighthouses of Ireland conference to plan future growth for lighthouse tourism in the country.

In 2022, over 622,000 people visited lighthouses and lighthouse tourism experiences, according to Tourism Northern Ireland.

Lighthouse experiences can include boat and ferry trips and tours of Ireland’s maritime industry.

Pre-Covid, the Great Lighthouses of Ireland reportedly delivered a €16.8m economic benefit in under four years and supported over 400 jobs. In 2022, overnight stays in lighthouses rose to an occupancy rate of 74% – up from a pre-Covid level of 46% in 2019. This represents an increase of more than 1,600 overnights, up to 4,350.

Great Lighthouses of Ireland chairperson Bobby Kerr commented: “Lighthouses have such a special and universal appeal and are located in some of our island’s most breathtaking coastal landscapes.”

Irish Lights CEO Yvonne Shields O’Connor added: “Growing lighthouse tourism has multiple benefits. It’s a positive and sustainable way to preserve our maritime heritage. It can provide income and jobs for coastal communities and increase visitor numbers to Ireland.”

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By GlobalData

GlobalData’s travel and tourism analysis finds that international arrivals in Ireland grew by 245.3% in 2022, while international departures increased 199.9%, forecasting a positive picture for Ireland’s travel and tourism industry.

Tourism Northern Ireland head of programmes Eimear Callaghan explained: “We want to harness the appeal of lighthouses for the benefit of the wider destination and community. In collaboration with public, private and community partners, our goal is to develop sustainable visitor experiences based around our maritime heritage and culture.”

Hospitality giant Accor recently opened the Mantra Bunbury Lighthouse hotel in Western Australia, signalling a global trend towards lighthouse experiences.