The official opening of The Gobbins has been delayed until Easter 2016 in order to attract media attention at the start of next year’s tourist season.
The decision was made by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council at a meeting in The Braid on September 7.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Billy Ashe said that council had been “overwhelmed by the positive feedback” which it had received from across the borough and worldwide.
The public opening of The Gobbins took place on Wednesday August 19, and the site welcomed its 1,000th visitor last week.
Chief Executive Anne Donaghy commented: “Tourism NI say it would be wise to hold back until Easter, when we can relaunch and revisit all the Gobbins has to offer.”
A council report notes that booking for guided tours has been “very busy since the attraction opened for bookings.”
According to the report, a review of capacity at the attraction is now underway with a view to adding additional capacity to weekends in the first
“We are trying to move the tours from every hour to every 30 minutes to increase capacity,” revealed Mrs Donaghy.
“I have confidence in the staff and we are working to get more guides trained up, I think we will see a big increase in numbers.”
The council report stated that additional car parking would be required at the Visitor Centre. A business case was discussed in closed council, from which the press were excluded.
The council report states that there are “a number of visitors who are not undertaking the guided tours and simply utilising the facilities at the Visitor Centre.”
It adds that the community centre in now fully operational and has taken bookings from a number of community groups.
The report also reveals details of the council trip to Milwaukee Irish Fest to promote The Gobbins.
“Initial feedback from the Members involved confirms a very significant level of interest in the Gobbins and in visiting Northern Ireland,” it stated.
“A full evaluation of the visit will be completed in due course and brought to the Economic Growth and Development Committee.”
It was also proposed that the Mayor should host a civic reception to mark the contribution of members of the Gobbins/Slaibh Liag Steering Group, the retired members and officers of Larne Borough Council, the staff of Mid and East Antrim and others.
Councillor Paul Reid proposed that council delay the official opening to keep The Gobbins “in the public face.”
This was seconded by Councillor Patrice Hardy.