Tourism is important to Ireland, and also to Dublin, with visitor figures continuing to increase annually. In 2017, 9 million overseas tourists visited Ireland with 5.9 million people spending all or part of their visit in Dublin.
Parks and gardens are a significant draw for tourists. The National Botanic Gardens achieved in excess of 540,000 visitors in 2015 and over 1.5 million overseas tourists visit gardens in Ireland per year.
While statistics are not available for visitor numbers to all Dublin parks, it is expected that they are a significant component within Dublin’s overall tourism portfolio which generated overseas visitor revenue of over €1.7 billion in 2015.
Visitor numbers are enhanced with events, such as the Bloom Garden Festival (120,000 visitors in 2017) in the Phoenix Park, and the Rose Festival in St Anne’s Park, (up to 5000 visitors per day).
Parks express the culture and the story of the city and are therefore potential visitor attractions. In particular, historic parks can relate to particular periods in the capital’s history, such as Georgianera Dublin. Contemporary parks also play a role in expressing Dublin as a modern city by incorporating relevant themes into their design. Fr Collins Park, for example, puts a focus on sustainability and particularly on renewable wind energy.
Fáilte Ireland’s Destination Dublin Strategy identifies a Culturally Curious sector of leisuretourism with growth potential to direct marketing investment. Culturally Curious visitors are mostly older couples or solo travelers with time to spend. They are independent ‘active sightseers’ looking to explore new places. They want to ‘do a place’, both its culture and the beauty of its landscape. They respond well to a range of information and are best disposed towards Ireland as a destination of all the visiting groups. The Strategy indicates city parks and squares and their link, in particular, to the Culturally Curious groups’ interest in gardening.
Parks as a tourism resource require further research to determine what levels of visits are achieved, how they can be successfully marketed, what visitors enjoy about Dublin’s parks and what further work needs to be done to enhance their appeal to visitors.
“…to find ways of packaging Dublin as a city that offers an interesting mix of the built and natural environments…”
– Destination Dublin, A Collective Strategy for Tourism Growth to 2020