Leading travel agents from Australia enjoyed a fact-finding visit to Ireland over the St Patrick’s period, as guests of Tourism Ireland and Etihad Airways. They were here to check out some of the many things to see and do in Ireland and to find out what’s in store for holidaymakers from ‘Down Under’ during this special year of The Gathering Ireland. It was also a wonderful opportunity to highlight the excellent connectivity between Australia and Ireland, with Etihad via Abu Dhabi.
One of the highlights of the travel agents’ time here was taking part in the first-ever Peoples Parade in the Dublin St Patrick’s Day parade. The travel agents also paid a visit to Newgrange and the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre in Co Meath, as well as to the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre in Oldbridge and Glendalough in Co Wicklow. In Dublin, they visited Croke Park where they did the Etihad Skyline rooftop tour. They also stopped off at the Little Museum of Dublin on St Stephen’s Green and enjoyed an evening at the Irish House Party on Francis Street.
Diane Butler, Tourism Ireland’s manager in Australia, said: “We are delighted that these travel agents have taken time out from their busy schedules to come and visit Ireland. For many, it was their first time here and they were extremely impressed by our wonderful scenery, our 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 help the travel agents to know exactly what we have to offer potential Australian holidaymakers; the aim is to really enthuse them about the destination, so that when they return to Australia, they are better equipped to advise their clients on future travel plans.
“The travel agents’ visit was also a wonderful opportunity to highlight The Gathering and the fantastic programme of events taking place here this year. Tourism Ireland is undertaking an extensive programme of promotions in Australia, and elsewhere around the world, to highlight The Gathering. As well as directly targeting the Diaspora and those with a connection to Ireland, Tourism Ireland is also working closely with influential travel agents, so that they will encourage their clients to come here this year to enjoy some of the many festivals and events of The Gathering.”
2012 was a record year for visitor numbers from Ireland’s long-haul markets. And indications for 2013 are also positive; with Etihad’s recent announcement of a +35% increase in capacity on its service from Abu Dhabi to Dublin, which is in addition to the Emirates service from Dubai, the island of Ireland is now more accessible than ever before for visitors from long-haul markets like Australia.