Fifteen top travel agents from around Italy enjoyed an action-packed visit to Ireland recently. Their fact-finding trip was the ‘grand finale’ of Tourism Ireland’s Irlanda online training programme for Italian travel agents, designed to help them sell holidays to the island of Ireland. Each year, the top-performing ‘VIP’ (Very Irish People) travel agents are selected by Tourism Ireland to visit Ireland on completion of their training.
Their itinerary, designed by Fáilte Ireland, included a guided tour of the Kilbeggan Distillery Experience in Co Westmeath. They also visited Galway, where they enjoyed a walking tour of the city, and Connemara, where they visited Kylemore Abbey and Gardens. In Co Mayo, they paid a visit to Croagh Patrick and enjoyed a cycle along the Great Western Greenway route. They also visited Westport House and Gardens and had the chance to sample the produce at this year’s Westport Food Festival.
Niamh Kinsella, Tourism Ireland’s manager in Italy, said: “As a reward for excelling in their training, this group of travel agents got to spend time in Ireland to experience some of the many things to see and do here. Familiarisation trips such as this are vital, as influential travel agents get to experience at first-hand the superb tourism product on offer here; we aim to enthuse the travel agents about the destination, so that when they return home they will be better equipped to advise their clients when planning and booking their holidays.
“Italy is an important market for tourism to the island of Ireland, with the latest CSO figures (for the period June-August 2012) showing an increase of +24% in Italian visitors, when compared with the same period last year. Tourism Ireland has a busy promotional programme in place this autumn, showcasing Ireland as a fantastic holiday destination. The visit of these travel agents was also a valuable opportunity to highlight the Gathering Ireland 2013 and the fantastic programme of events planned for next year. Tourism Ireland is working closely with influential travel agents, so that they will encourage their clients to come here next year to enjoy the festivals and events of the Gathering.”
Now in its eighth year, Tourism Ireland’s Irlanda training programme consists of 50 questions about the island of Ireland tourism product; these include questions about our activity products, festivals and events, fly and drive holidays, accommodation, cities and general information.