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21 Feb 2012

On a mission to woo tourists from India

Tourism Ireland targets India on four-day travel trade mission to Mumbai and Delhi

A travel trade mission to India kicks off this week. A delegation of nine tourism organisations led by Tourism Ireland is visiting Mumbai and Delhi, to meet with key tour operators and travel agents there, to ensure the island of Ireland fully capitalises on this emerging tourism market.  

The mission, organised in association with VisitBritain, involves a series of B2B workshops, presentations and sales calls with travel agents and tour operators over four days. It will allow participating Irish companies to network and do business face-to-face with key decision-makers, encouraging them to include the island of Ireland in future holiday programmes. The Irish companies will also meet with some of the key Indian travel and lifestyle journalists in both cities.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “The majority of our overseas visitors come from the core markets of Great Britain, North America and Mainland Europe, and while this will continue, it is important that we expand our focus beyond these markets and look to the long-term opportunities presented by India and the other BRIC countries. Since the visa waiver scheme was introduced by the Government last year, there has been a noted increase in demand from tour operators for visas for Ireland and ten tour operators in India are programming Ireland for the first time in 2012, on the back of the new arrangements. We believe the BRIC economies will play an increasing role in the future of the travel and tourism industry generally and will play a greater part in helping us to grow tourism from overseas in 2012 and beyond.”

With offices in Mumbai and Delhi, Tourism Ireland’s programme of promotional activity in India involves co-operative campaigns with airlines and influential tour operators, to ensure Ireland features prominently in itineraries and travel brochures; hosting familiarisation visits for travel agents and tour operators around the island of Ireland; as well as working closely with travel and lifestyle journalists, to ensure the island of Ireland features extensively in the media in India. Tourism Ireland will continue to highlight the improved access to Ireland from India (including the recently launched Emirates service via Dubai and the existing service with Etihad Airways via Abu Dhabi) and the visa waiver scheme, introduced by the Government last year, which is enhancing Ireland’s popularity as a holiday destination for Indian travellers.

Tourism Ireland will also capitalise on the tourism potential of a new Bollywood blockbuster Ek Tha Tiger (meaning ‘Once There Was A Tiger’) shot in Dublin last September, which will be released this summer and is expected to reach over 100 million people. Bollywood is deep-rooted in the psyche of most Indians and the films have a considerable influence on Indian travellers when they are deciding on their holiday destination. Tourism Ireland is confident that the footage shot in Dublin will help whet appetites and create a curiosity among Indians to come and visit the places where the colourful film was shot.

With a booming economy and an expanding middle class (India currently adds 40 million people to its middle class each year), India is certainly a tourism market of potential. Latest estimates suggest that at least 9 million foreign trips are taken by Indians each year, with about 400,000 visiting the UK. About 15,000 Indians visit Ireland each year.