Ireland has been named ‘best emerging destination’ for 2013 at a high profile awards ceremony in India organised by Lonely Planet magazine.
A jury of travel experts shortlisted popular destinations for Indian travellers in the January edition of the magazine and readers were then invited to name their favourite. Ireland took the top award for “best emerging destination” – beating off strong competition in the same category from Canada, Oman, Croatia, Vietnam and Fiji. The award was presented to Tourism Ireland – by John Abraham, a renowned Indian actor and producer – at a gala ceremony over the weekend in Mumbai, attended by travel industry leaders from around India, as well as various Bollywood stars.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Ireland has been singled out for this award. Tourism Ireland has been working hard to build awareness of the island of Ireland as a premier holiday and business tourism destination in India. 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. I am confident that this award will enhance the reputation of the island of Ireland and help to attract more Indian visitors in 2013 and beyond.”
“Since the visa waiver scheme was introduced by the Irish Government, there has been a noted increase in demand among Indian travellers for Ireland, with a number of tour operators programming Ireland for the first time ever, on the back of the new arrangements. Tourism Ireland will continue to work hard to put the island of Ireland on the map in emerging markets like India, which offers exciting possibilities for tourism in the medium to long-term.”
The annual Blue Balloon travel awards are organised by Lonely Planet magazine India, the most popular travel publication in India, to recognise outstanding performers in the travel and tourism industry. The voting process was conducted online, as well on the Facebook page of Lonely Planet.
With offices in Mumbai and Delhi, Tourism Ireland’s programme of promotions in India involves co-operative activity with influential intermediaries such as airlines and tour operators, to ensure Ireland features prominently in their itineraries and travel brochures; familiarisation visits for travel agents and tour operators around the island of Ireland; as well as working closely with travel and lifestyle journalists, to ensure they write or broadcast extensively about the island of Ireland.
2012 was a record year for visitor numbers from Ireland’s long-haul markets. And indications for 2013 are also positive; Etihad’s announcement of a +35% increase in capacity on its service from Abu Dhabi to Dublin this year, in addition to the Emirates service via Dubai, mean that it is easier than ever before to get to Ireland from India.