Coillte has released new figures revealing that there was a large increase in visitor numbers to some recreation forests in Mayo.
Three of Coillte’s recreation forests in Mayo track visitor numbers and these recorded 36,900 visitors between June and August. This was a significant increase on visitor numbers in April and May, during the height of Covid-19 travel restrictions.
During March and April 2020, when COVID restrictions were at their most limiting, Coillte saw a large drop in visitor numbers as non-essential travel was restricted. However, since travel restrictions were lifted on June 19, visitors have begun returning to Coillte’s forests across Ireland.
The overall increase is 79% for Letterkeen, Belleek and Tourmakeady, the three Coillte recreation forests in County Mayo which can track visitor numbers.
Coillte is Ireland’s leading provider of outdoor recreation activities in Ireland with more than 3,000 kilometres of trails, 260 recreation sites and 12 forest parks across the country.
Imelda Hurley, Chief Executive of Coillte said: "Since restrictions were eased and people could move more than five kilometres from their homes, we, unsurprisingly, saw an immediate large increase in visitor numbers.
"In fact, there was a 79% increase in visitor numbers in three of Coillte’s Mayo recreation forests since lockdown restrictions were eased in June, Letterkeen, Belleek and Tourmakeady. This continued, steady increase is heartening for all of those who cherish our amenities.
"Access to nature is very important for the body, mind and spirit and that is why we work hard to maintain our tracks, parks and outdoor recreational facilities across Mayo.
"As we approach the end of August, and people take time to enjoy our forests, we ask that visitors continue to adhere to the social distancing rule of two metres when meeting others outside of their household, as well as the other guidelines on outdoor gatherings announced by the Government.
"I want to thank the public for adhering to the Government’s travel restrictions during the Covid-19 lockdown. If we continue to remain vigilant, we can all play our own part in protecting our communities.’"