Almost 30,000 sightseers visited The Gobbins cliff path in Islandmagee during this year’s tourist season.
Mid and East Antirm Borough Council has reported that the attraction welcomed tourists from countries including Australia, New Zealand, America, China and India.
As the cliff path walk winds down after a “bumper” season, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has announced exciting plans to reopen even earlier with special weekend tours planned during January and February with seven-day opening from the March 1.
Mayor Councillor Lindsay Millar said: “I’m delighted to confirm The Gobbins will be open in January for tours that definitely won’t be for the fainthearted.
“The unique appeal of The Gobbins is the exposure to nature and the elements in all their glory. The path was originally carved out of the cliff by the Victorians more than a century ago and visitors to The Gobbins are walking in their footsteps as they make their way along the path just feet away from crashing waves.
“It is a spectacular place to be in the summer, as our tens of thousands of visitors this year discovered, and I can’t wait to enjoy it in January when the experience will be completely different.”
The Gobbins is situated is the heart of the Causeway Coastal Route - voted the number one region in the world to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet. The summer season at The Gobbins finishes on Wednesday 31 October.
The Islandmagee-based attraction has wowed visitors from home and abroad with its winding route along basalt steps, over the iconic tubular bridge, and even under the sea in places. Its towering viewing platform offers panoramic views of the area’s stunning coastline.
It sits within an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) and is the only location in mainland Northern Ireland where puffins are found to be nesting.
Guillemots, cormorants and kittiwakes are also frequent visitors to the basalt cliff face and eagle-eyed guests may even catch a glimpse of dolphins among the abundant sea life in the area.
The Mayor added: “The ongoing success of The Gobbins and Mid and East Antrim’s other key tourism sites has an invaluable knock-on effect for the local economy, boosting investment and creating jobs.
“With tourism spend approaching the £1billion milestone in Northern Ireland, Mid and East Antrim is ideally positioned to capitalise on the region’s blossoming tourism industry.
“This borough has huge tourism potential and Council continues to work in partnership with local communities and the tourism industry through the tourism clusters, ensuring that we all have the skills and support required to grow and maximise our tourism offering in the borough and across Northern Ireland.”
On Monday afternoon, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council welcomed a £350m commitment to bolster the proposed £1bn Belfast Region City Deal.
Belfast Region City Deal sets out a ten-year plan to grow the economy, boost jobs and tourism, increasing skills, encouraging investment and developing infrastructure.
The substantial economic opportunity includes plans for around £80m of investment in Mid and East Antrim.
This includes proposals to extend The Gobbins cliff path.
The 1.2 mile-long cliff walk is one of the most ambitious engineering projects ever seen in Northern Ireland and was originally built in the early 20th century.