Irish Tourism Minister Paschal Donohoe was in the United States last week and the news he was imparting was all positive.
Most important is the reality that there will be likely be two new destinations from the US to Ireland next year further upping the seat capacity. Los Angeles is considered to be very likely a destination while another flight from the east coast is said to be on the cards.
There are clearly many other places, Texas for example, where flights to Ireland could open up a whole new trading relationship with the American southwest.
Donohue also saw the recent merger between Aer Lingus and British Airways as a very positive step, allowing Irish travelers to avail of the One World tickets that allow unfettered travel on the same ticket.
The Minister and his officials were clearly buoyant about prospects.
As Tourism Ireland Chief Executive Niall Gibbons said, “Ireland has never been easier to get to, with more than 40,000 seats leaving 11 gateways across the U.S. each week. This growth in direct air capacity has allowed us to increase Ireland’s market share of the U.S. outbound travel market to Europe to 10 percent, and deliver what we expect will be a third record year for Irish tourism from the U.S.; year-to-date visitor figures through end of July are trending well at plus-15 percent.
“Armed with a very extensive program of campaigns highlighting Ireland’s Ancient East, the Wild Atlantic Way and Northern Ireland, and targeting audiences with strong potential for growth, the outlook for 2016 looks very positive.”
The Ancient East is a new concept modeled on the massive success of the wild Atlantic Way. As Donohoe explained, It “aims to build on the wealth of historical and cultural assets in the east and south of Ireland.”
“The new initiative seeks to give visitors a personal experience of 5,000 years of Irish history through a journey of discovery stretching from Carlingford to Cork and is intended to match and complement the Wild Atlantic Way in terms of scale and ambition.”
Donohoe said, “The government has just announced initial funding of over $2 million for a program to animate the great amount of history and heritage in Ireland’s Ancient East and allow us to build on the tourism assets we have in the east and south of the country.
“With tourism businesses already mobilizing behind the new initiative, I believe that Ireland’s Ancient East will prove as effective and popular as the Wild Atlantic Way and will ultimately deliver significant additional numbers of visitors, revenue and jobs to the region.”
Add to the fact that the Tourism Ireland website has now surpassed the 1 million Facebook users and it becomes obvious that Irish tourism is set for a major boom. The figures are certainly pointing that way.
AS Donohue pointed out, “2014 was a record year for Irish tourism from North America, with more than 1.3 million visits. These visitors were worth more than $1 billion to our economy with a significant impact on job creation throughout the country. Judging by the most recent statistics from the Central Statistics Office, this year looks set to be another record year, with the most recent figures showing growth of 15% in the number of American visitors to Ireland from January to July, compared to the same period of 2014.”
Now if only the Irish summer weather would cooperate a little more!