TENS of thousands of people from around the world visited the stunning Gobbins coastal path in the last eight months, with American and Canadian holidaymakers accounting for over a tenth of visitors during the summer months alone.
The visitor figures, the most up-to-date for the award-winning Islandmagee attraction, also show more Northern Ireland visitors travelled to the clifftop walk during the off-peak winter months of November 2019 to January of this year.
The Gobbins is now open again to the public following a period of closure for essential winter maintenance, and one of the first to visit for the new season was Junior Minister, Gordon Lyons MLA, who was welcomed by the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Maureen Morrow.
Council officers and tourism staff were also in attendance as the Minister toured the site, which in May 2019 was recognised with a prestigious infrastructure accolade by the AECOM Excellence Awards.
The Gobbins is fast becoming a must-visit destination along the world famous Causeway Coast, with a suspension bridge, tunnels and pathways bringing walkers up close and personal with the spectacular coastline.
With the attraction featuring prominently in the new Tourism NI ‘Embrace a Giant Spirit’ marketing campaign, members of the public are encouraged to book their place to avoid disappointment.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Mayor, Cllr Maureen Morrow, said: “I was delighted that Minister Lyons took time out of his busy schedule to see The Gobbins as we look forward to another busy season.
“Growing our tourism and hospitality industry is a key commitment for Council, so it is very positive news that we are now seeing more and more people from all over the world enjoying the stunning scenery and breath-taking sea and landscapes that we have on our doorstep.
“It was a great privilege to be able to showcase The Gobbins and the Islandmagee area to Minister Lyons and I wish the Council staff, tour guides and local businesses a prosperous and rewarding Spring/Summer 2020 seasons.”
Gordon Lyons MLA said afterwards: “I am pleased to be able to visit the Gobbins again as it prepares to welcome more visitors to this iconic attraction and experience.
“It is now a key part of Northern Ireland’s tourism offering and I’m delighted at the success it has already enjoyed and I know that it will go from strength to strength.
“I want to pay tribute to the Council for all their work in developing and promoting this experience and in particular the wonderful staff that have been essential to the continued success of the Gobbins. I would encourage those who haven’t yet visited to get their tickets and see what is on offer- they won’t be disappointed.”
Meanwhile, significant progress has been made by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to further plans for an £11million project to extend The Gobbins.
Forming part of the Belfast Region City Deal, The Gobbins Phase II project aims to join the upper and lower cliff paths, providing a circular walking route at the popular visitor attraction.
The scheme will see the cliff and coastal path extended to take in more geological features of the rugged coastline, delivering a more adventurous experience for locals and tourists.
To book your tour, visit www.thegobbinscliffpath.com