Eleven top travel agents from Canada are visiting Northern Ireland this week, as guests of Tourism Ireland and Air Canada. The agents are on a fact-finding trip, to experience at first-hand the superb holiday product on offer here. Their visit comes after Air Canada’s announcement that it is to introduce a new year-round service between Toronto and Dublin for 2014 – operated by its leisure carrier Air Canada rouge.
The travel agents’ itinerary, designed by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, included a walking tour of Londonderry’s seventeenth-century walls, as well as a visit to the Guildhall and the Tower Museum. Following an overnight stay at the Beech Hill Country House Hotel, the group travelled along the Causeway Coastal Route, with a stop at the Mussenden Temple and the Giant’s Causeway, before heading for Belfast and a tour of the iconic Titanic Belfast and SS Nomadic.
Jayne Shackleford, Tourism Ireland’s manager for Canada, said: “We are delighted that so many of these influential travel agents took the time out of their busy schedules to come and visit Derry~Londonderry during its year as the inaugural UK City of Culture. 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 Canadian holidaymakers. Our aim is that when they return to Canada they are better equipped to advise their clients about Northern Ireland when planning and booking their holidays.
“The travel agents’ visit was also an ideal opportunity to highlight the new, year-round service from Toronto to Dublin, with Air Canada rouge, which kicks off next year. We have worked with Air Canada for many years and we look forward to working closely with Air Canada rouge to maximise the promotion of this flight. As an island, direct, convenient and competitive access services are critical to achieving growth in inbound tourism. "
With more than 4 million Canadians claiming ancestral links or affiliations with Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland, Canada is an important market for tourism. Tourism Ireland has had a busy programme of promotions under way throughout 2013, in particular highlighting Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013.