Tourism Ireland has launched a new ‘Ireland Specialists’ online training programme – to assist tour operators and travel agents in the GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) countries to promote and sell holidays to the island of Ireland. Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who has been leading a trade mission to the UAE this week, announced the initiative at a Tourism Ireland event in Dubai, which was attended by leading travel trade, airline and media contacts.
Last year, Ireland welcomed about 45,000 visitors from the GCC, up about +7% on the previous year. And the outlook for 2014 and beyond is also positive, with local airlines increasing the number of flights to Ireland; recent good news includes the announcement by Emirates that it will double its services between Dubai and Dublin, from next September. Direct flights between the UAE and Ireland have been an important factor in promoting tourism.
Tourism Ireland is placing increased emphasis on its digital efforts in the region, which include the development of its first-ever Arabic language website, which the organisation will launch this spring. Given that travel agents and tour operators continue to be an important booking channel for holidaymakers in the GCC, Tourism Ireland’s new training platform will enhance communications with those influential travel trade partners, highlighting the island of Ireland as a ‘stand-out’ destination for their clients.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, commented: "Tourism Ireland is ramping up its online promotional activity in the Gulf States, in line with the increased interest we are seeing in travel to the island of Ireland. While we are working hard to promote the island of Ireland in the ‘traditional’ tourism markets like Great Britain and the United States, Tourism Ireland is also very active right now in markets like the Middle East, showcasing the island of Ireland as a premier holiday destination. The increase we have seen in visitor numbers to Ireland from this region is highly encouraging and we aim to keep the momentum going and build on that growth in 2014.”
Tourism Ireland plans to recruit 500 travel agents to take part in its new online training in 2014. The programme, which comprises six modules, has been developed to equip the travel trade in the GCC with detailed knowledge about the island of Ireland in an engaging and easy-to-digest online format.
Notes To Editors
- Tourism Ireland is the organisation responsible for promoting the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination.
- Tourism is the island of Ireland’s largest indigenous industry; responsible for in excess of 4% of GNP in the Republic of Ireland and employing approximately 200,000 people.
- By the end of 2014, we will have welcomed an estimated 8.6 million overseas visitors to the island of Ireland, delivering revenue of about €4.26 billion. Overseas tourism business accounts for 59% of all tourism revenue.
- Tourism Ireland’s international website is www.ireland.com, available in ten different language versions for over 30 individual markets around the world.