The tourist industry in Ballina has enjoyed a massive 12 % increase in visitor numbers this year. From the period between January and September, the Ballina Tourism numbers from 2014 have shown a steady rise with hotels enjoying a bumper year. Ballina Tourist office alone reported an increase from 3,516 visitors in 2013 to 3,921 visitors in 2014 while on a national level Fáilte Ireland has reported that the figures show an overall increase in 10% between the months of June and August.
Sales Manager Michelle Ryan from Hotel Ballina says: “We have seen a tremendous increase in visitors to the Hotel over the first 9 months of the year, especially with the international traveller and local Irish visitor taking the weekend break and summer holiday trip. The hard work of all the committee’s in Ballina in promoting Ballina Town with festivals and events has paid off. This is a natural draw for the visitor to come and see the historic town of Ballina and we will see this continue to rise with hard work and planning.”
In addition to the new festivals and events that have brought people into the town this year, The Wild Atlantic Way has been a majorly contributing factor, as Ballina is situated right in the heart of the stunning coastal driving route which is quickly becoming a major player in the world of international tourism.
Niall Kerins, General Manager of The Ice House Hotel in the Quay Ballina said that: “This season has been very good for Ballina and the hotels in the region. Our summer was up on last year in each month by 10/15% on room nights. We have also seen an increase on the average rate compared to the last number of years which is encouraging for 2015. The festivals throughout the season have been a plus at bringing more tourists in to the area and the Cannonball Run stop over was especially great for the Ice House being on the Quay. Also The Wild Atlantic Way has been a key provider in bringing tourism to the area this year. A lot of guests are either passing through the town on their trail route or basing themselves in Ballina while they explore the key signature points around us.”
Ballina is clearly showing its worth as a gold standard destination for tourists and visitors alike with the introduction of several new festivals and events this year certainly impacting the figures positively. 2014 was an immensely successful year with the Frosty Salmon Festival, Mayo Stages Rally, St. Patrick’s Weekend, In Humberts Footsteps and Food Fleadh Ballina the new festivals helping to put Ballina on the map as an established tourist destination, both nationally and internationally. Stemming from these exciting new experiences in the town, the festivals and events calendar generated approximately €3,380,000 in economic value, a cumulative attendance of 104,000 people and 3,119 bed-nights.
The Ballina Salmon Festival which celebrated its 50th year is a massive boost to Ballina tourism and continues to attract approximately 50,000 people each summer and with the renowned Halloween Festival Samhain Abhainn still to come from the 25th of October to the 1st of November, it is estimated that that total amount of festival attendees in the town for 2014 will be in excess of 180,000.
The Frosty Salmon Christmas Festival will be the last event of 2014, rounding off a brilliant year with festive cheer and Christmas spirit. 2015 certainly looks bright for Ballina, as the town develops into a popular destination and attractive discovery point for visitors and with even more new events and festivals promised for the New Year, there is much to be excited about for the Salmon Capital.
The increase in Ballina tourism figures is more good news for the town, which was awarded the ‘Purple Flag Award’ in early October for the quality of its night-time economy. Ballina is the first town to receive the award in the West of Ireland and follows in the same prestige as Dublin City’s Creative Quarter and Dame District, the town of Ennis in Co Clare, Bray Co. Wicklow as well as international hotspots like London’s Covent Garden, Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter and Liverpool City Centre.
A testament to all the local groups working in the area including the Ballina chamber, local community groups and festival committees, the Mayo North promotions office, volunteers, sports clubs, pubs, restaurants, hotels, local businesses and the county council, Ballina tourism is reaping the rewards of working together towards the grand purpose of making the area a vibrant, atmospheric and enjoyable place to visit.