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14 May 2012

Asia Focus on the island of Ireland in Bangkok

A major travel trade event to grow tourism business from the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA) region gets under way this week in Bangkok, Thailand. Tourism Ireland and a delegation of tourism operators from the island of Ireland are travelling to Bangkok today, to take part in Destination Britain & Ireland (DEBI) 2012.

DEBI is an annual B2B event, organised in conjunction with VisitBritain, involving one-to-one meetings, presentations and networking sessions with over 100 of the top travel agents, tour operators and media contacts from 15 markets from across the APMEA region. The delegation will be encouraging those influential travel professionals to include the island of Ireland in their holiday programmes for 2012 and beyond and to increase our share of these fast-growing and dynamic tourism markets – including China, India, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

In its message to the attending travel professionals this week, Tourism Ireland will be placing particular focus on the Government’s visa waiver scheme, which encourages visitors from emerging markets to visit Ireland when they are visiting the UK, without the hassle or cost of applying for a separate visa.
Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar T.D. said:  “With the recent announcement by the Government to extend the visa waiver scheme until 2016, the time is right to step up our promotion of Ireland in the Asia-Pacific region. The extension of the scheme is a significant step in helping us to grow visitor numbers from these markets in 2012 and beyond. 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, with at least 24 tour operators programming Ireland for the first time ever in 2012, on the back of the new arrangements. We believe the economies of countries like India and China 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 to Ireland in 2012 and beyond.”

Niall Gibbons, chief executive 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 markets like China, India and the Middle East to raise the profile of the island of Ireland as a premier holiday and business tourism destination. Promotions like DEBI are an invaluable part of that marketing effort. The Asia-Pacific region offers exciting possibilities for tourism to the island of Ireland in the medium- to long-term. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has forecast that the Asia-Pacific region will be one of the fastest-growing regions for outbound travel in the next ten years.”