A group of top travel agents from 17 different states across the United States is visiting Ireland this week – as guests of Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland, in conjunction with American Airlines and Aer Lingus. Many of the travel agents – all representatives of top-producing American travel companies like Ensemble, Virtuoso, Signature Vacations and American Express – took in a fact-finding trip to the North West, in advance of attending a B2B workshop at Carton House in Maynooth, with about 80 tourism providers from across the island of Ireland.
The travel agents’ packed itinerary included Donegal, where they enjoyed a visit to the Dunlewey Centre at the foot of Mount Errigal and a tour of Glenveagh Castle; Sligo and a stop at Yeats’ grave at Drumcliffe; and Roscommon, where they visited historic Strokestown House and Park. After the B2B workshop, the group spent a day in Dublin, checking out various hotels and visiting attractions like the Guinness Storehouse.
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 come and visit the North West and Ireland. Familiarisation visits such as these are extremely important, as the travel agents get to experience at first-hand the wealth of things to see and do here for American holidaymakers. Our aim is to enthuse them about the destination and ensure that when they return home they are better equipped to advise their clients about Ireland when planning and booking their holidays.
“The US is a very important market for tourism to the island of Ireland and Tourism Ireland believes that we are on course to achieve our best year ever from the United States – even surpassing the previous best year of 2007; this year, we will welcome over one million American visitors, spending about US$1 billion. Our fall campaign is now in full swing in the United States – we have a really extensive programme in place between now and the end of the year, showcasing the island of Ireland and targeting late-season travellers.”
According to the latest CSO figures, visitor numbers from North America are up +16.5% year to date (to end of August); and + 20% for the peak summer months of June to August.