Continuing its push to grow visitor numbers from the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, Tourism Ireland invited five leading Indian tour operators to visit Ireland recently. Representing influential travel companies like TUI India and Ontime Travels, this was a first-time visit to Ireland for everyone in the group.
The travel experts – whose itinerary was designed by Fáilte Ireland – visited Dublin, taking in a Viking Splash Tour, an evening at the Irish House Party on Francis Street and a visit to Trinity College and the Guinness Storehouse. Then it was on to the Irish National Stud in Kildare; and to the medieval city of Kilkenny. In Cork, they enjoyed a boat tour of Cork Harbour, a tour of Fota House and Gardens, as well as a chance to kiss the legendary Blarney Stone. They also enjoyed a tour of the Ring of Kerry.
Tourism Ireland – in close co-operation with Fáilte Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board – undertakes a busy programme of fact-finding visits to the island of Ireland for tour operators and travel agents each year, to allow these influential intermediaries to experience the destination for themselves, so they can sell it with greater authority and enthusiasm on their return home. Huzan Fraser, Tourism Ireland India, said: “We are delighted that these tour operators have taken time out from their busy schedules to travel to Ireland. For all of them, it was their first visit and they were extremely impressed by the wonderful scenery, rich heritage, as well as by the hospitality and friendliness of the people they met. Familiarisation visits such as these are extremely important, as they enthuse the tour operators about the destination and help them understand what we have to offer Indian holidaymakers.
“The majority of our overseas visitors come from the core tourism 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 India and the other BRIC countries. Latest estimates by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) suggest that India will account for 50 million outbound tourists by 2020 and we believe this market could play a significant part in helping us to grow tourism from overseas in the coming years.”