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07 Jun 2017

Taoiseach lends a hand to promote Ireland in Chicago

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is visiting Chicago this week, on a trade and investment mission. Yesterday (Tuesday, 6 June), he took the time to support Tourism Ireland’s promotional efforts, when he met some of the leading tour operators, airlines and meetings and incentive travel planners based in Chicago, who programme and actively sell Ireland for both leisure and business travel.

The United States is one of the greatest contributors of visitors and tourism revenue to the island of Ireland. And, outbound travel from the US to the island of Ireland has grown faster than to many of our competitor destinations – so that today, over one in ten American travellers to Europe now visits Ireland.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “In 2016, we welcomed a record 1.6 million North American visitors to the island of Ireland, worth over €1.3 billion to our economy. Tourism Ireland has prioritised North America for 2017, as a market which offers a strong return on investment, in terms of holiday visitors and expenditure. A number of factors are working in our favour, including more airline seats than ever before, from 20 gateway cities across North America to the island of Ireland, with numerous new flights and expanded services in the pipeline for this year, including from Chicago.”

Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s Head of North America, said: “We have seen superb growth in North American visitor numbers so far again this year, with the most recent CSO figures for February to April 2017 showing growth of almost +26% – an extra 73,100 North American visitors compared with the same three-month period last year. Tourism Ireland is undertaking an extensive programme of targeted promotional activity to keep the momentum going and build on that growth.”

Tourism Ireland has set its sights on continued growth for 2017 and is rolling out an extensive programme of promotions throughout the year. The programme kicked off with a national TV campaign this spring (Tourism Ireland’s first national TV campaign in the US in over seven years), reaching an estimated 255 million potential American holidaymakers. Our important ‘culturally curious’ and ‘social energiser’ audiences are being targeted with distinctive vacation experiences, events and special offers tailored to their interests. Tourism Ireland is creating ‘stand out’ for the island of Ireland in the US, highlighting experiences like the Wild Atlantic Way, the Causeway Coastal Route, Ireland’s Ancient East, Belfast and Dublin. Screen tourism also remains a priority, as the organisation continues to capitalise on our connections with Star Wars and Game of Thrones. Promotions are helping grow travel to the regions of Ireland, during the shoulder and off-peak seasons.
  Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Chicago with (from left) Elias Manneh, United Airlines; Niamh O'Shea, Aer Lingus; Mark Stratford, American Airlines; Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland; and Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s Head of North America.

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 220,000 people.
  • In 2016, we welcomed approximately 10.5 million overseas visitors to the island of Ireland, delivering revenue of about €5.4 billion.
  • Tourism Ireland’s international website is, 29 market sites available in 11 language versions around the world, which attracted 19.37 million visitors in 2016.

Previous Press Release

02 Jun 2017

Discovering the island of Ireland by campervan