In a significant nod from one of the most influential travel authorities, Co Waterford has emerged as a top destination to visit in 2024, according to The New York Times’ renowned annual ’52 Places’ list. This prestigious compilation, eagerly awaited each January, is considered a guiding force in setting travel agendas for the year.
Ranked at No. 30 on the esteemed list that spans locations from the Albanian Alps to Brisbane, Australia, and Koh Ker in Cambodia, Waterford is celebrated not only for its historic significance but also for its natural attractions. The publication notes that while Waterford is synonymous with crystal, the city, founded in 914, boasts a rich history.
The Viking Triangle attractions, including Reginald’s Tower, the new Irish Wake Museum, and the Irish Museum of Time, contribute to Waterford’s allure. The Copper Coast, framed by imposing cliffs and picturesque coves, the Waterford Greenway, and Mount Congreve are also highlighted by The New York Times. The recommendation includes an invitation to cap off a Greenway adventure with afternoon tea amidst one of Ireland’s most extensive collections of plants at Mount Congreve Gardens, which underwent a multimillion-dollar refurbishment and reopened in 2023.
Waterford has been on a commendable streak of international acclaim. Last November, Condé Nast Traveller listed it, along with Co Wexford, among its ‘Best Places To Go in 2024’ in the UK and Ireland. Additionally, the city earned the title of ‘European City of Christmas 2024’ in a competition by the European Capital and City of Christmas 2024, further attesting to its charm.
Recognising the potential impact of such media endorsements, particularly in the North American market, Sara Dolan of Mount Congreve Trust said “This list is highly regarded and it often sets the bar or casts the spotlight on destinations for other travel writers to plan further exploration, so we are thrilled to be included,”.
The positive news aligns with Tourism Ireland’s launch of its 2024 marketing plans, backed by a robust budget of €70 million. The organisation aims to boost overseas tourism revenue by an average of 5.6% annually until 2030 and regional off-peak revenue by 6.5% a year over the same period. With North Americans constituting 24% of tourist numbers but contributing 37% of tourism spend in 2023, coupled with favourable exchange rates and expanded air access, expectations for continued growth in transatlantic travel in 2024 are optimistic. The focus remains on attracting tourists with “value-adding tourism traits,” individuals who prioritise memorable experiences and explore regions across seasons.
Alice Mansergh, Chief Executive Designate of Tourism Ireland, said “We will be showcasing iconic reasons to travel here, expanding people’s bucket lists from best-known spots to our hidden gems.”