Tourism is an important economic driver, playing a significant role in the economy and job creation.

Economic contribution of Tourism: Ireland

In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, overseas and Northern Ireland tourist expenditure in the state amounted to €5.6 billion. With additional spend on fares to Irish carriers and other expenditures by overseas visitors together with domestic tourist expenditure of €2.1 billion, the tourism industry in the state amounted to €9.5 billion (Fáilte Ireland). Direct employment in accommodation and food services activities in Q3 2019 was 177,700 (7.6% of total employment). Taking into account additional services in the tourism industry (e.g., attractions and other services), Fáilte Ireland estimates employment in the sector at 260,000 (2019) or 11% of total employment.

As well as its overall importance to the economy, tourism offers employment-intensive growth across a range of skills areas and sub-sectors and flexible jobs. Tourism and related-sectors (hospitality, visitor attractions and services) can contribute to job creation, attract economically inactive people or under-employed people into work (especially women seeking part-time and seasonal jobs, farm families) and reduce unemployment in both urban and rural Limerick.

Visitors to Limerick and Revenue Generation

Based on Fáilte Ireland data, in 2019, Limerick had 602,000 overseas visitors generating revenue of €254 million and 349,000 domestic visitors generating revenue of €51 million (€305 million combined revenue in 2019).  Both domestic and overseas visitor numbers and revenue have increased for Limerick since 2014 (€204 million).

 In the Mid-West Region in 2019, there were 1,432,000 overseas visitors generating revenue of €472 million and 1,197,000 domestic visitors generating €217 million in revenue. Of the overseas visitors, 36% were from North America, 32% mainland Europe and 26% from Britain.

While tourism has been growing in Limerick (pre-COVID), the county is less advanced in tourism development compared with the main tourist counties in Munster (Kerry, Cork and to a lesser extent Clare). The tourism potential of Limerick continues to lag behind. 

Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

Tourism was amongst the industries severely impacted by COVID linked to restrictions on travel and lockdowns. Data on domestic / Irish resident trips and spend for the counties in the Mid-West illustrate this.



Domestic Trips (‘000)

Domestic Spend (€m)

% change 2019-2021

Domestic Trips

% change 2019-2021 Spend





































However, by summer 2022, a significant recovery in overseas tourism to Ireland was in evidence. For instance, air access to Ireland based on the airlines’ seat capacity from all overseas destinations recorded in October 2022 (2,357,381 seats) is at 97% of the level of October 2019. Hotel occupancy in the Republic of Ireland in August 2022 was -4% of the occupancy rate of August 2019.

In relation to passenger seat capacity into airports in Ireland, Dublin Airport is the main entry point, accounting for 69% of the seat capacity into Ireland in October 2022 followed by Belfast International and Belfast City airports (19% combined). Shannon Airport recorded a seat capacity of 78,418 (3.3% of all seat capacity into Ireland). While Shannon Airport seat capacity in October 2022 is at 97% of the seat capacity of October 2019, it accounts for only a small proportion of the share into Ireland. The overall figures across all airports in Ireland (north and south) show the dominance of Dublin Airport and Dublin as the main point of access by air for overseas visitors. As such, there is much scope to grow tourism market connectivity directly in the Mid-West Region via Shannon.

Developing Tourism in Limerick

In 2019, the top visitor attractions in Limerick were the Hunt Museum (113,000 visitors), King John’s Castle (110,794 visitors), Limerick City Gallery of Art (85,000 visitors) and Foynes Flying Boat Maritime Museum (50,500 visitor). The next order of visitor attraction ranking were: Limerick City Museum (28,000 visitors) and Desmond Hall Newcastle West (12,356 visitors). 

Limerick City and County Council in partnership with local and national stakeholders aim to increase visitor numbers and sustainable job creation by further developing existing visitor attractions and expanding the tourism offering. King John’s Castle in the city is now under the management of Limerick City and County Council; there has been major public investment in the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum to expand its footprint and enhance its offering; there is an expanded programme of events at the museums, Limerick City Gallery of Art and festivals and events in the city (Riverfest) and rural Limerick; there has been significant investment in strategic recreation infrastructure – in particular, the Limerick Greenway in the west of the county and Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trails in east Limerick as well as cultural tourism in the towns and villages along the Shannon Estuary. Private investment in recent years includes major investment in the Adare Manor Hotel and other hotel expansions in the city, the International Rugby Museum in the city centre and other sites.

The selection of the golf course at Adare Manor as the host venue for the 2027 Ryder Cup is not only a major opportunity for Limerick but for Ireland. Preparation for the Ryder Cup 2027 will be the focus of a national programme and inter-departmental / inter-agency approach involving the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht and Sport, Fáilte Ireland, Sport Ireland as well as the local authority and local stakeholders. This will focus on putting in place the necessary infrastructures (e.g., transportation, tourism, economic) and marketing and promotion in order to capitalise on this event as an opportunity for tourism development and attraction to Ireland and Limerick.  It offers the opportunity to showcase the heritage village of Adare and the attractions in other parts of Limerick and as a major spur to the development of rural tourism.

Limerick as a tourism destination is the focus of new marketing campaigns, supported by Fáilte Ireland, with Limerick now designated as a Gateway City for the Wild Atlantic Way. 

Plans are being advanced by the Council to expand the Limerick Greenway infrastructure and tourism attractions on it. The Limerick Tourism Development Strategy 2019-2023, the Limerick 2030 Economic and Spatial Plan for Limerick and the River Shannon Tourism Masterplan, are key strategic plans which support further development of tourism in Limerick. In February 2022, Limerick City and County Council established Discover Limerick DAC, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Council, to take on operational responsibility for major attractions under its control (King John’s Castle) and to drive the development of tourism in Limerick.