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07 Nov 2016

Minister Patrick O’Donovan kicks off Ireland’s tourism drive for 2017 at world’s largest travel fair

70 Irish tourism enterprises set to engage in thousands of meetings, as they negotiate business for 2017

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan joins Tourism Ireland and some 70 tourism businesses from across the island of Ireland at World Travel Market (WTM) in London today. WTM heralds the beginning of Ireland’s promotional drive overseas for the 2017 season. 

Over the next three days, the Irish companies will engage in thousands of meetings with British and international tour operators – to negotiate and exchange vital contracts for 2017. Organisers estimate that more than £2.5 billion’s (about €2.8 billion’s) worth of business was done at last year’s WTM. Ireland’s strong presence at World Travel Market is particularly important this year, in the context of Brexit and its potential implications for Irish tourism, in 2017 and beyond. 

With about 180 countries and regions all vying for business at WTM, Tourism Ireland aims to stand out from the crowd and capture the attention of the global media and travel professionals in attendance. Tourism Ireland – working in partnership with Fáilte Ireland and industry partners – will highlight Ireland’s unique offerings for potential visitors around the world, including the Star Wars connection with Ireland, as well as experiences such as Ireland’s Ancient East, the Wild Atlantic Way and Dublin – A Breath of Fresh Air.

Minister O’Donovan said: “World Travel Market provides an excellent platform for Tourism Ireland, and the participating tourism enterprises, to highlight Ireland’s world-class tourism experience to international tour operators. It is remarkable to see the level of business activity that is under way at the Tourism Ireland stand. It is often said that Ireland’s people are its greatest tourism asset and seeing the hard work that is being put in here by Tourism Ireland, and by the representatives of the participating businesses, I have to agree. While there are new challenges for Irish tourism as a consequence of Brexit, I am confident that the tourism industry can adapt quickly to enable continued growth from international markets.”

There has been growth in overseas visitors to Ireland from all markets around the world this year. In fact, the latest CSO figures indicate that this will be another record year for Irish tourism, with almost 7.5 million people arriving during the January to September period – an increase of +12%, or almost 800,000 extra overseas visitors, when compared to 2015.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “The large representation of Irish tourism companies at World Travel Market once again this year is extremely welcome. Since the UK referendum on Brexit, Tourism Ireland has been closely monitoring developments in the British outbound travel market. As our nearest neighbour and our largest market for overseas tourism, Britain will remain a priority for us. The depreciation of sterling against the euro since the referendum means that value for money will be a key message for us in Britain next year.

“Looking to 2017, it’s likely that Brexit will impact on consumer confidence, which in turn may have consequences for holiday travel demand – especially on travel from Britain. However, we will continue to work with our industry partners to highlight the ease of getting to the island of Ireland, with almost 240,000 seats by air and 45,000 car spaces on ferries every week from Britain, as well as the wide variety of things to see and do on holiday here. We are committed to making 2017 another strong year for Irish tourism.”

Now in its 37th year, World Travel Market is the largest B2B event in the global travel and tourism calendar, with more than 50,000 travel professionals from around the world and 3,000 international media in attendance. 
  Vanessa Markey and Niall Gibbons, both Tourism Ireland; Dervla O’Neill, EPIC Ireland; ‘Luke Skywalker’; and Tourism Minister Patrick O’Donovan, at World Travel Market 2016.

Notes To Editors


  • Abbey Ireland & UK
  • Ashling Hotel
  • Best Western Hotels & Resorts
  • Causeway Coastal Route
  • Celtic Group Hostels
  • CIE Tours International and Dublin Sightseeing / Do Dublin
  • Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience
  • Culture & Heritage Tours Ireland and Luxurious Ireland
  • Dalata Hotel Group plc  
  • Destination Mourne Mountains and Ring of Gullion
  • Discover Boyne Valley
  • Donegal Hotels
  • Dublin’s DNA Quarter
  • EPIC Ireland
  • Giant’s Causeway
  • Guinness Storehouse and Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny
  • Heritage Island
  • Irish Ferries
  • Irish Tourism Ltd
  • Irish Welcome Tours
  • JacTravel
  • Kilkenny Tourism
  • Killarney Jaunting Cars / Tangney’s of Killarney
  • Killary Fjord Boat Tours / EI Travel Group / Irish Whiskey Museum​
  • Killashee Hotel
  • Kylemore Abbey & Victorian Walled Garden
  • Lough Erne Resort
  • McGettigan Hotels 
  • Mespil Hotel Dublin and Sligo Park Hotel
  • MyHolidayIreland (part of Limerick Travel Group)
  • O’Connor Coaches Ltd
  • Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links
  • PREM Group Hotels / Trinity Hospitality Services
  • Seamus Heaney HomePlace
  • Select Hotels of Ireland and Cronin’s Coaches
  • Shannon Heritage Ltd
  • SRC Hotels Ireland
  • St Patrick’s Country – Downpatrick and Armagh
  • The Gobbins Visitor Centre
  • The Talbot Collection
  • Titanic Belfast
  • Visit Belfast
  • Visit Derry
  • Westport House
  • Whites Hotels & Group Travel