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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

One of Mid & East Antrim’s key tourist attractions makes over half a million pounds

The Gobbins tourist attraction, mid and east Antrim, county antrim

Revenue from one of Mid and East Antrim’s key tourist attractions amounted to £544,000 during the last financial year, councillors have been told.

The Gobbins in Islandmagee welcomed 32,640 visitors to the location during 2022/23 against a target of 29,778.

The highest number of visitors to The Gobbins was achieved previously in 2019 when 33,000 sightseers toured the refurbished coastal path. The most recent figure is a 41 per cent increase on 2021/22. The targeted revenue for 2022/23 was £380,500 councillors also heard.

Minutes of the Gobbins Steering Group meeting indicated the income for 2022/23 was aided by “no prolonged or unplanned closures” and “early handover” in February following planned maintenance works, the previous month, which meant that tours could take place during weekends in February.

“Demand was strong and resulted in over 500 visitors enjoying the tour which has really helped the end of year figures,” the minutes said.

The steering group meeting took place in March but minutes were presented at a meeting of the borough council’s Neighbourhoods and Communities Committee meeting last week.

It was also noted 80 per cent of day-trippers to The Gobbins were visiting from outside Northern Ireland. These were mostly adult ticket sales but an increase in family tickets has been reported. Retail revenue for the last financial year amounted to £66,593.

Cruise bookings were said to have been “looking positive for the season ahead”.

Meanwhile, preparations for the 2023/24 season included a rockfall management plan and risk assessments with path safety checks carried out twice daily and with bridge repair works and planned maintenance scheduled. Bird surveys have been taking place on cliff faces.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has tendered to appoint a “single economic operator to provide a project manager led integrated consultant team” in relation to the design and delivery of the second phase of The Gobbins cliff path at Islandmagee outside Larne.

The £13.6m Gobbins phase II project aims to “address capacity issues, principally by introducing a looped walk that connects the coastal path to the cliff top path, meaning that visitors do not have to return along the same path by creating a looped route”.

The restoration of The Gobbins in 2015 saw the development of just over one kilometre of coastal path with a separate visitor centre at Middle Road.

The next phase of the project proposes a “major upgrade to the cliff top path providing stunning views across the Irish Sea and opportunities to cross a new rope bridge that stretches across the coastline below”.

A new cliff top ‘Welcome Hub’ with amenity facilities will be provided to act as a starting point for visitors to the site.


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