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20 Oct 2017

President Michael D Higgins lends a hand to promote tourism to Ireland

President Michael D Higgins and Sabina Higgins were the guests of honour at a business luncheon hosted by Tourism Ireland in Sydney earlier today. The President met with leading representatives of the Australian travel industry, including tour operators, airlines and travel journalists.  

President Higgins is currently undertaking a State Visit to Australia and New Zealand. The visit to Australia is focused on deepening and expanding Ireland’s long-standing bilateral ties with Australia and on highlighting aspects of the two countries’ shared history and is aimed at strengthening economic, tourism, cultural and political links between the two nations. 

At the Tourism Ireland event, President Higgins delivered an inspirational speech highlighting the deep historical connection between Australia and Ireland. He spoke about Ireland’s tourism industry and the relationship between the visitor and the visited and how Ireland is ensuring to look after both – “efficiency should never defeat hospitality”. He also mentioned that Ireland is a big contender to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023. Rugby has emerged in recent decades as one of Ireland’s most successful and popular sports and, should the bid be successful, the tournament will be played across the island of Ireland. 

Since the President’s arrival in Australia, he has met with Irish communities in Perth, Melbourne, Hobart, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane; and has also met with key representatives of the worlds of business, tourism, sport, academia, culture and the arts.

Sofia Hansson, Tourism Ireland’s Manager Australia and New Zealand, said: “We were delighted to host President Higgins at this special event in Sydney, to help us deliver the message about the many great reasons for Australian holidaymakers to visit Ireland. The President’s visit is highlighting Ireland’s ancestral and cultural ties with Australia. 

“Australia offers significant potential for tourism to the island of Ireland. In 2016, we welcomed more than 200,000 visitors from Australia and New Zealand. Tourism Ireland is determined to ensure that success continues and we have an extensive programme of promotions under way in Australia this autumn – aimed at boosting late-season travel to Ireland and at positioning us well for 2018.”
  Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland; Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald TD; President Michael D Higgins; Sabina Higgins; Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s Head of Australia, New Zealand and North America; and Matthew Cameron-Smith, Trafalgar Guided Holidays, at Tourism Ireland’s business luncheon in Sydney.

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 281,000 people across the island.
  • In 2016, we welcomed approximately 10.3 million overseas visitors to the island of Ireland, delivering revenue of about €5.3 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.