Sites 'worth 700m euro in tourism'
Irish heritage sites are worth about 700 million euro as tourist attractions, a study has found.
Research revealed that major historical sites and ancient monuments are also sustaining tens of thousands of jobs and are worth about a total of 1.5 billion euro in total to the economy.
Michael Starrett, Heritage Council chief executive, urged the Government to look at the value of maintaining important structures, archaeological finds and natural landscapes.
"All the evidence demonstrates that investment in heritage is inherently sustainable long term and provides a successful solution to economic recession," he said. "This report supports that claim and provides evidence of the contribution built heritage makes to jobs and the wider economy.
"Many European countries such as Norway, Slovakia, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands include heritage investments as part of their economic stimulus packages because heritage conservation is recognised as a way of creating jobs which are highly skilled, long term, well paid and crucially of benefit to local economies."
The report for the Heritage Council by economic consultants Ecorys and Fitzpatrick Associates found that heritage directly supports 25,000 jobs and indirectly supports 40,000. It is estimated that, out of these, 17,000 construction jobs are sustained by work on heritage sites.
The study, Economic Value of Ireland's Historic Environment, examined the extent and value of heritage - two World Heritage Sites Bru na Boinne in Co Meath and Skellig Michael off Co Kerry, more than 20 historic buildings, 38,000 protected structures and more than 120,000 structures protected under the National Monuments Act.
Shaun Quinn, Failte Ireland chief executive, said: "Heritage tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in international tourism and these visitors who are interested in heritage and culture tend to stay longer, visit more places and spend more per day than tourists in general."
Chris Whitfield, project director of the research team, warned that the value of heritage as an economic resource has been misunderstood and underplayed for too long.
"It should be important to note that economic impacts attributable to the historic environment are by their nature internal to Ireland and essentially non-exportable," he said.