A study by research company Behaviour & Attitudes has found that Fota Wildlife Park is a major asset to Cork Tourism with 46% of all their visitors to the attraction are holidaying in the area and spending €146m during their stay.
The survey which was commissioned by Fota Wildlife Park took place over 4 weeks in June and August with the aim of identifying where their visitors were coming from and how many of them were taking a holiday in the area. Speaking about the findings Head of Marketing for Fota Wildlife Park Stephen Ryan said "the results prove that the park is a significant factor when people decide on visiting Cork for their holiday with 25% of all the holiday makers surveyed stating that the park was the main reason they stayed in the area."
Fota Wildlife Park which is Cork's most visited tourist attraction with 377,000 visitors in 2010 has been a major draw for tourists since it opened in 1983 and in the last two years it has increased its numbers by 14% during what has been a very tough time for tourism in Ireland. The wildlife park which is a non profit organisation officially opened a new €4.5m entrance complex earlier this year, the project was self funded and opened by President of Ireland Mary McAleese. Fota also had the honour of hosting the first ever BIAZA (British & Irish Association of Zoo & Aquariums) conference to take place outside the UK in Cork in June.
The park is currently working closely with Failte Ireland on bringing more national and international tourists to the area and they are planning an expansion which would see the park increase from 70 acres to 97 acres. Speaking about the future of the park Mr Ryan added "at present we are looking at the major markets such as the UK, US, Germany & France as potential growth areas and if we manage to acquire the adequate funding for our expansion we believe that the park could be a major draw for these international tourists as research has shown that they like to visit large themed attractions when on holidays".
Hoteliers in the area will be interested to know that half of these holiday makers stay in a hotel which is equivalent to 89,700 bed nights in the area. The balance of holiday makers to Fota Wildlife Park are staying in either self-catering, guesthouses and bed and breakfasts, with only one in six staying in private accommodation (with friends or relations).
The survey shows that on average these holiday makers stay about four nights in the area and spend an average of €44 per person per night on accommodation; this figure rises to an average of €57 for those staying in hotels. It also found that in a typical week a third of all visitors to the park would be visiting for the first time, this figure became higher when it was an overseas visitor.
One of the key findings for Fota Wildlife Park was that a quarter of all visitors claim Fota was the motivating factor behind their visit to Cork. A further 50% of those surveyed said that they are interested in the area per se of which Fota is an appealing attraction along the way.