06 Feb 2024

Great Lighthouses of Ireland

The Great Lighthouses of Ireland is a tourism initiative launched in 2015 by the Commissioners of Irish Lights.

The partnership is made up of public, private and community sector partners who, over the past decade, have grown significantly to include sixteen sites around Ireland. It offers more than 20 unique experiences and attracts over 360,000 visitors annually.

In Northern Ireland, the visitor experiences include Rathlin West Light, Blackhead Lighthouse, and St John’s Point Co Down.

Eimear Callaghan, Head of Programmes at Tourism Northern Ireland, explains ‘In October last year, around sixty leaders from the lighthouse, marine, and tourism sectors gathered in Northern Ireland for the annual 3-day Great Lighthouses of Ireland conference.

The conference focused on several topics, including strategies for growing sustainable and regenerative product. It also explored the collective power of partnerships among public, private, and community partners to harness the appeal of lighthouses for the benefit of the wider destination and community. The goal is to unlock the potential of these partnerships to broaden the itineraries associated with lighthouse tourism and develop sustainable visitor experiences based around our rich maritime heritage and culture’.

Recent international research on Lighthouse Tourism has identified how our lighthouses have the potential to act as beacons that showcase our coastal destinations, creating a world-class activity offering.

The initial recommendations from this research include designing a suite of product development interventions. These are aimed at transforming the passive visitor into a more active consumer who stays longer and spends more. The development areas include:

  • Creating compelling, saleable experiences
  • Developing engaging heritage and cultural interpretation
  • Providing ancillary services within the area
  • Enhancing the development and promotion of a range of activity product offerings
  • Establishing sustainable tourism exemplars at key sites
  • Creating activity hubs or trail heads for each area

The research also suggests opportunities to develop some sites as Special Interest Centres or Centres of Excellence. Premium Experiences could be delivered in partnership with local communities.

Tourism Northern Ireland is working closely with all stakeholders to shape and inform the delivery of this ambitious opportunity.

In partnership with Irish Lights, Tourism NI will further support this initiative through two workshops (dates TBC) . We would like to hear from individuals, businesses and organisations who are currently delivering activity and services in and around Rathlin, Blackhead Lighthouse, and St John’s Point Co Down.

We aim to build on shared learning, knowledge and expertise to create truly inspiring and memorable visitor experiences. It’s time now to be more ambitious about what we can achieve together.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact our Experience Development team here