A group of leading UK inbound tour operators visited Northern Ireland this week, as guests of Tourism Ireland.
These tour operators are all based in Great Britain, responsible for putting in place arrangements for visitors from long-haul markets. The aim of their visit was to help grow Northern Ireland’s share of the huge, worldwide tourism market – with a particular focus on increasing business from new and emerging markets, like India, China and Russia – and to encourage the tour operators to add Northern Ireland to their programmes.
Following an itinerary devised by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the group enjoyed a visit to the SS Nomadic and Titanic Belfast, before travelling along the spectacular Causeway Coastal Route to see the iconic Giant’s Causeway and the Old Bushmills Distillery. The travel professionals then spent time in Londonderry, exploring the city’s historic walls and walking across the Peace Bridge to Ebrington Parade. A visit to the Ulster Folk Museum at Cultra completed their fact-finding tour of Northern Ireland.
Jim Paul, Tourism Ireland’s head of Australia and developing markets, said: “The majority of our overseas visitors come from the core markets of Great Britain, North America and Mainland Europe, and while this will continue, it is important that we expand our focus beyond these markets and look to the long-term opportunities presented by ‘new’ tourism markets, which we believe will play an increasing role in the future of the travel and tourism industry. It is therefore crucial that influential tour operators bringing in visitors from these markets get to experience Northern Ireland at first-hand and the high standard of the tourism product on offer here. For many of the group, it was their first time here and they were extremely impressed by our spectacular scenery, the variety of things to see and do, as well as by the hospitality and friendliness of the people they met.”