Tourism Ireland invited thirty-seven leading British coach and group tour operators to Northern Ireland last week, for a day of intense meetings with local tourism providers. Within that group, an impressive twenty-three companies were visiting Northern Ireland for the first time – including Owens Travelmaster Holidays, Country Travelers and Springwood Events & Initiatives. The event was organised jointly by Tourism Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.
Following the meetings, the operators took the opportunity to take part in familiarisation trips which highlighted the excellent tourism product that Northern Ireland has to offer. Their itinerary included a chance to experience the Walled City of Derry and the world-famous Causeway Coastal Route, as well as a visit to the National Trust property of Castle Coole in Fermanagh, Belleek Pottery and the Marble Arch Caves.
A key element of Tourism Ireland’s strategy this year is to re-engage and re-energise the travel trade in Great Britain, by re-establishing Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland as a ‘stand-out’ destination with influential trade buyers. It is hoped that the operators who were here last week will introduce Northern Ireland into their holiday packages and brochures or extend the programmes in which Northern Ireland already features.
Lawrence Bate, Tourism Ireland’s Head of Great Britain, said: “Tourism Ireland is delighted these influential decision-makers in the coach and group business arena had the opportunity to experience for themselves the high standard of the tourism product on offer to potential GB holidaymakers in Northern Ireland, so they can sell more effectively when they return home.
“Great Britain is the largest and most important market for tourism to Northern Ireland, and last year we welcomed over one million British visitors here. Tourism Ireland is working flat out to win business for Northern Ireland this year and has a strong promotional programme under way in GB right now, highlighting great reasons to visit and the tremendous value on offer, as well as ease of access to Northern Ireland.”
Leading GB coach tour operators enjoyed a tour of the historic walls of Derry with Linda Duncan, Tourism Ireland Scotland (third row, third from left) and Dawn Hewitt, NITB (back row, second from right).
For further information:
Clair Balmer/Elaine Moore, Tourism Ireland
Tel: 028 7035 9260 Mob: 07766 527719
Notes to Editors:
• Tourism Ireland is the organisation responsible for promoting Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination.
• Tourism is responsible for in excess of 4.9% of GDP in Northern Ireland and supported approximately 40,000 jobs.
• Over 1.4 million overseas visitors came to Northern Ireland in 2009, delivering revenue of £271 million.
• Tourism Ireland’s international website is www.discoverireland.com; there are 41 different websites, providing information in 19 different languages covering every continent. In 2009 discoverireland.com attracted a record 13+ million unique visitors, a +34% increase in visits on 2008.