A group of top American travel agents visited Waterford and the South East this week. They flew into Dublin on the inaugural American Airlines flight from JFK, New York, as guests of Tourism Ireland and American Airlines.
The travel agents were here to check out some of the many great things to see and do in this part of Ireland – and to find out what’s in store for American holidaymakers during this special year of The Gathering Ireland. It was also a wonderful opportunity to highlight the excellent connectivity between the US and Ireland, with the brand new, daily American Airlines service between JFK and Dublin. Their packed programme, designed by Fáilte Ireland, included a guided tour at the House of Waterford Crystal and a visit to the Waterford Museum of Treasures. Then it was on to Enniscorthy in Co Wexford, where the group stayed at the Monart Destination Spa. They also visited Powerscourt House and Gardens in Co Wicklow and the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.
Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s head of North America, said: “We are delighted that so many of these influential travel agents took the time out of their busy schedules to travel to Ireland on the inaugural American Airlines flight. Familiarisation visits such as these are extremely important as they help the travel agents to know exactly what we have to offer holidaymakers in the US; the aim is to really enthuse them about the destination, so that when they return home, they are better equipped to advise their clients on future travel plans.
“The United States is a tremendously important tourism market. The most recent figures from the CSO showed a very positive start to 2013, with an increase in visitor numbers from North America of +16% for the period February to April. This is an exciting year for tourism, with The Gathering having very much caught the imagination of American travellers – particularly those with Irish heritage. We believe that we are on course to achieve our best year ever from this market; in 2013, we hope to welcome over one million American visitors, spending about US$1 billion.”
The new American Airlines service will operate year round, providing a welcome boost to both leisure and business tourism from the all-important US market to the island of Ireland.