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Monday, March 3, 2014

Tourism Ireland Visitor Numbers Exceed Expectation

In the lead up to St Patrick’s Day, Ireland’s popularity in the Australian and New Zealand market is confirmed with visitation statistics going from strength to strength.

There are a number of factors influencing this increase, including good value for money for visitors, increased accessibility from airline carriers and the success of Tourism Ireland’s year-long marketing campaign The Gathering.
Emirates and Etihad are both increasing their flights from their respective hubs in the Middle East.  Etihad will increase its Abu Dhabi – Dublin service from ten flights per week, to double daily from 15 July, while Emirates will fly double daily flights between unnamed (6)Dubai and Dublin from September.
“Tourism Ireland relies on airline partners to assist in growing the awareness of Ireland as a standalone destination and as an add-on to larger European vacations,” said Ms Diane Butler, Tourism Ireland Manager - Australia & New Zealand.  “Competitive fares to Ireland are crucial, but to have the added benefit of one-stop flights to Ireland can’t be overlooked as another factor in the decision making process for Australians – who are well travelled and knowledgeable.”
Ms Butler continued, “The increase in airline capacity into Ireland will facilitate continued growth in visitor numbers. Last year set the benchmark with a visitation increase of 21 per cent for the year 2013 confirmed by the CSO”.
Ms Butler explains the increase is due to a number of factors, The Gathering, a nationwide effort to bring the Irish diaspora and anyone who has ever had an inkling to visit – back home, was a hugely successful marketing campaign.  That combined with the fact that while Ireland has always been an easy place to get to, is now even easier to reach, with increased air access from Australia via global hubs in the Middle East.
“Obviously, these stats are off a smaller base than many markets, but if the growth continues, we will be overtaking European markets in generating visitor arrivals to Ireland.  We are getting close to 200,000 visitors now, and it’s our focus to supercede that target in 2014,” she said.
This year there is even more reason to visit Ireland with plenty of new and interesting experiences and events from the Giro d’Italia in May, new Game of Thrones tours throughout Northern Ireland, the opening of the stunning Wild Atlantic Way the longest coastal signposted driving route in the world at 2500km from Donegal to Kinsale in March, the World Flower Show in Dublin and the Irish Golf Open in Cork both in June and the 1100 year anniversary of Waterford to name a few.
From Tourism Ireland’s position, the ease of access into Ireland should enhance its position in gaining more market share against other popular European destinations. Greater access from continental Europe and more particularly the direct flights via the Middle East have proved a major benefit for visitation figures from this region.
“The announcement by both airlines indicates their confidence in this market and a view that Ireland is a viable and lucrative route.  It’s a very positive start to 2014,” concluded Ms Butler.
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