A group of leading UK-based tour operators visited Ireland last week, as guests of Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland. The group included representatives of major travel companies which are responsible for putting in place the arrangements for visitors to GB and the island of Ireland from all over the world.
The operators were here on a fact-finding visit – to help grow Ireland’s share of the huge, worldwide tourism market, with a particular focus on increasing business from new and emerging markets and in particular from the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). During their visit, the operators also attended a B2B workshop in Co Meath with 40 tourism operators from across the island, where they heard about the exciting programme of events which is in the pipeline for the Gathering. As well as directly targeting the Diaspora and those with a connection to Ireland around the globe, Tourism Ireland is also working closely with influential tour operators and travel agents, so they will encourage their clients to come here next year to enjoy the festivals and events of ‘The Gathering’.
The tour operators’ itinerary included Co Clare, with a visit to Bunratty Folk Park and the Cliffs of Moher. They travelled to Galway where they enjoyed a walking tour of the city and a cruise on the Corrib Princess. They also visited the newly-renovated Tullamore D.E.W. Visitor Centre and Birr Castle in Co Offaly.
Jim Paul, Tourism Ireland’s Head of Australia and developing markets, 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 ‘new’ markets including the BRIC economies, which we believe will play an increasing role in the future of the travel and tourism industry. It is therefore crucial that influential operators working in these markets get to experience Ireland at first-hand and the high standard of the tourism product on offer here. 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 Ireland 2013 and the fantastic programme of events planned for next year. This autumn, Tourism Ireland is rolling out a major programme of promotions around the world, to highlight the Gathering. We are extending an invitation to the tens of millions of people everywhere who have ancestral links with Ireland to come home next year, as well as to the many others who feel linked by friendship, business or education and to those who simply hold an affection for what Ireland has given to the world. We are also calling on expatriates and those with an affinity for Ireland to get involved and organise their own ‘Gathering’ events in Ireland next year.”