Thirty of the top coach tour operators from six European countries – including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Norway – visited the South West last week, for a B2B workshop with tourism providers in Killarney and to take part in a fact-finding visit of Cork city and county. Their visit was organised by Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland.
During their time here, the tour operators visited Blarney Castle and the Jameson Whiskey Experience in Midleton, before travelling to Cobh, where their itinerary included a Titanic walking tour with local historian Dr Michael Martin and a visit to the Titanic Experience. In Cork city, they visited the Cork City Gaol and enjoyed a walking tour of the city, taking in the English Market and the Ogham Stones at UCC.
Finola O’Mahony, Tourism Ireland’s head of Europe, said: “We are delighted that so many of these influential coach and group tour operators took time out from their busy schedules to come and visit Co Cork and Ireland. The aim of the trip was to encourage the visiting operators to feature Cork and Ireland as a new destination in their programmes or to extend the Ireland content of their existing programmes. For many of the group, it was their first time here and they were extremely impressed by our spectacular scenery, the wealth of historic attractions, as well as by the hospitality and friendliness of the people they met.
“The operators’ visit was also a valuable opportunity to highlight the Gathering and the fantastic programme of events planned for next year. This autumn, Tourism Ireland is undertaking an extensive programme of promotions in Mainland Europe, and elsewhere around the world, to highlight the Gathering As well as directly targeting the Diaspora and those with a connection to Ireland, Tourism Ireland is also working closely with influential tour operators and travel agents, so that they will encourage their clients to come here next year to enjoy the festivals and events of the Gathering.”