By David Young, PA
A leading Dublin tourist attraction freshly crowned the world’s best visitor experience is hoping the global accolade, assisted by a David Beckham boost, can drive it to new heights in 2024.
The Guinness Storehouse, which took away the top prize at the World Travel Awards earlier in December, is set to welcome more than 1.4 million visitors this year.
Perhaps the most famous of those were David Beckham and his son Cruz who paid a visit in February, sharing the experience with their tens of millions of combined Instagram followers.
Storehouse managing director Catherine Toolan said winning the world’s leading tourist attraction accolade was an achievement two decades in the making.
“The Guinness Storehouse has been in this location and open as a visitor experience and a brand experience for 23 years now and throughout that 23 years we continued to invest in creating a world-class experience,” she said.
“The World Travel Awards is really the Oscars of the travel industry. It’s an award that’s been going on for 30 years.
” We have won Europe’s leading experience in 2015 and also the World Travel Award for the leading beer tour experience.
“But this year was the pinnacle by winning the world’s leading tour experience, competing against the likes of the Taj Mahal, the Ferrari experience (in Abu Dhabi), the Great Wall of China and the Walt Disney resort in Florida.
“I’m so proud of the team. It’s a brilliant award for us. And it’s a brilliant award for the city as well and for tourism in Ireland.”
David and Cruz Beckham’s visit came five months after US basketball star Steph Curry also toured the Storehouse, which is on the site of Guinness’s famous St James’s Gate brewery in Dublin.
In previous years, Tom Cruise and the Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Catherine, have also visited.
Ms Toolan said the exposure generated by high-profile visitors tangibly boosts engagement and interest in the Storehouse online.
Referring to the Beckhams’ Instagram posts, she added: “When they post something like that to their followers, we do see, you know, a lot more engagement and indeed we would have a lot of visitors asking us or coming in and saying ‘Where did David Beckham pull his pint?’”
The centre has also recently expanded its offering to host live music events, with performances from Kelis, Bicep, Annie Mac and Dermot Kennedy among others.
Working with Ireland’s Autism Charity, AsIAm, the Storehouse also secured official accreditation in 2023 as an autism and neuro-divergent friendly venue.
On the first Wednesday of every month it now hosts dedicated sensory friendly experience days.
The initiative is aligned with the venue’s wider environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) goals.
“Some of the initiatives that we have in place from that perspective are that we have now 100 per cent renewable energy in the building, we have a zero to landfill (policy), and we’re working with Diageo and indeed all our partners to become net carbon neutral by 2030, which is a really lofty goal, but one we’re really focused on,” added Ms Toolan.
Looking forward to 2024, the Storehouse boss paid tribute to the 600-strong team of core workers and partners that help operate the attraction.
“It takes a village to run a brand experience like this, from the team that manage our warehouse, the team that manage our retail store, to the team that welcome visitors every single day,” she said.
“I feel so privileged to have such amazing people as part of that and they make the difference. And they give that ‘cead mile failte’ (one hundred thousand welcomes) and that warm welcome to our visitors every day.
“So winning awards is really special, but being able to come into a building and being the custodian of the 264-year, almost 265-year, Guinness history and working with the team that I work with every day, it’s just such a privilege.”