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TCD could lose at least €3 million after decision to close Book of Kells due to coronavirus fears

The Book of Kells is one of Ireland’s top tourism attractions.

The Old Library, a part of the Book of Kells exhibition.
The Old Library, a part of the Book of Kells exhibition.
Image: Shutterstock/STLJB

TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN could face losing at least €3 million in revenue following its decision to close the Book of Kells exhibition amid Covid-19 concerns. 

Yesterday, the university announced that all lectures would be delivered online for the rest of the semester while the Book of Kells and Old Library – one of Ireland’s top tourist attractions – would be shuttered alongside the the Science Gallery and the Douglas Hyde Gallery for the foreseeable future. 

The city centre university makes around €12 million a year from tourists visiting the Book of Kells and buying merchandise, Chief Operating Officer Geraldine Ruane said in 2019. 

Now, with health officials stressing that the global outbreak of Covid-19 is going to last for at least several months, the college could face a significant hit to its commercial activities. 

In 2018, 1,057,642 people visited the Book of Kells, which currently has an admissions fee of up to €14. 

With peak tourism season arriving, a closure of even three months could cost the college at least €3 million in revenue. 

Like other Irish attractions, visitor numbers and revenue would have likely been down in the coming months at the Book of Kells as foreign tourists decide to stay at home and avoid travel due to the coronavirus. 

As things stand, there have been over 114,000 cases of Covid-19 confirmed around the world and over 4,000 deaths. 

Trinity College confirmed last week that a single case of coronavirus had been confirmed within the university. 

A notice on the Book of Kells website currently states that the exhibition will close “until further notice”.

“This is a precautionary measure to minimise the spread of Covid-19. The decision has been made to protect the health and safety of our visitors and the university community,” it states. 

“Existing ticket holders will be contacted regarding refunds via email.”

While tutorials, seminars and laboratory practicals will all continue to be held in person, lectures will not be going ahead as normal for the rest of the term.

A spokesperson for Trinity College told TheJournal.ie that the decision to close the attractions was made for the safety of the college community. 

The spokesperson wouldn’t discuss what the financial cost of the decision would be, but said that it was “made for health reasons”.

“Cost implications were a secondary concern,” the spokesperson said.

Other colleges have also taken measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. In Dublin City University, the spring graduation ceremony will be postponed. 

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