A delegation of Irish tourism organisations and Tourism Ireland are en route to Moscow today, to begin a three-day sales mission in the Russian capital, in a bid to grow Ireland’s share of this emerging and fast-growing tourism market.
The mission, organised in association with Wedgewood Travel, will involve a programme of meetings and sales calls with the top travel agents and tour operators based in Moscow. The Irish tourism participants will also meet with more than 60 Russian companies involved in the international conferences, events and meetings sector, to introduce them to Ireland’s world-class conference facilities, at an event at the Irish Embassy on Thursday (1 March) hosted by the Irish Ambassador to Russia, HE Philip McDonagh.
Tourism Ireland recently announced a new strategy to attract more high-spending visitors from the emerging BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) tourism markets. The Russian economy is growing fast and travel is showing similar growth, with over 24 million people travelling outside of Russia each year. The UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organisation) reports that outbound travel from Russia has grown steadily in recent years and that in 2011 spending by visitors from Russia grew globally by +21%. Tourism Ireland research has shown that the Russian market has limited understanding of what the island of Ireland has to offer as a holiday destination; so, one of the main objectives of this week’s mission is to begin building awareness in Russia of the many things to see and do here.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar TD said: “Russia is one of several rapidly-growing markets being targeted by the Irish Government as part of our focus on tourism and economic recovery. Russian tourists can benefit from the Government’s visa waiver scheme, which makes it much easier for them to visit Ireland as part of a longer trip. Initiatives like the visa waiver, and this targeted promotional visit by Tourism Ireland, can help us to make an impression in Russia and other growing markets against stiff competition from every other significant tourist destination. I am delighted to see Irish tourism operators taking advantage of this opportunity by taking part in this delegation to Russia and showing what Ireland has to offer.”
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Research shows that some of the main motivators for Russians when choosing a holiday include ‘natural scenic beauty’ and ‘history and culture’; these are two areas for which the island of Ireland is renowned. We are stepping up our promotional efforts to grow our share of Russian tourism business this year and boost awareness of Ireland among Russia’s growing middle classes who have the potential to come here on holidays. We are also highlighting what makes Ireland unique as a conference and business tourism destination.
“In 2010, Russian tourism business to the UK increased by +23% and since the Visa Waiver Scheme was introduced here by the Government in May of last year, there has been a noted increase by tour operators in demand for Russian visas for Ireland. This market could play a part in helping us to grow tourism from overseas in 2012 and beyond.”
Tourism Ireland will target potential holidaymakers in the BRIC markets this year by working closely with airlines and tour operators to increase exposure and demand for holidays to the island of Ireland. The strategy has also been influenced by the Government’s introduction last year of the visa waiver scheme, which has made it easier than ever before for visitors from these countries to come to Ireland on holidays.