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Tourism Ireland seeks to boost group travel

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  •   03-25-2015  10:37 am
Tourism Ireland seeks to boost group travel

Tourism Ireland and its travel partners are bringing the Emerald Isle to travel professionals across Canada this week, with a series of workshops focused on group travel.

During the workshop's Toronto stop, ten suppliers were on hand to meet with agents, including tour operators and representatives from Ireland’s many spas and hotels.

Following the Toronto show, the workshop stops in Ottawa today, followed by appearances in Vancouver and Victoria.

According to Tourism Ireland’s Dana Welch and Alison Metcalfe, with year-round direct access to Ireland from Canada now provided by carriers including Air Canada rouge (which has increased peak-season service to 11 flights, Metcalfe noted) and Aer Lingus, the time is here to grow the country’s group travel market, from business delegations to groups of tourists drawn by interests such as cuisine, gardens and history. In addition to the two carriers noted above, WestJet, Transat and Europe Airpost offer peak-season service from Canada, Welch said.

“We do well out of Canada, but it’s been difficult to realize the true potential with only seasonal access,” Metcalfe said. “We now have started to realize that untapped potential.”

According to Welch, Canadian travel to Ireland grew by 30 per cent between 2013 and 2014, with a projection of a further 47 per cent growth between 2014 and 2016, with a growth of 12 per cent in 2015 alone due to increases in direct service. This year will also mark the year of Irish Design, as well as a year-long celebration of poet William Butler Yeats and the second year of the Wild Atlantic Way, featuring 2,500 kilometres along the world’s longest defined coastal touring route.

“There’s a lot of opportunity to put Ireland at the forefront and we’re hoping that with both retail agents and group travel organizers, when their clients think of Europe, they think of Ireland first.”

PHOTO: Alison Metcalfe, executive VP, U.S. & Canada, Tourism Ireland; Steve Royston, manager – group travel, Irish Tourism Group; Tanya Johnson, sales manager, Royal Irish Tours; Paul Shortall, director – sales & marketing, Lough Eske Castle; Fiona Delahunty, group sales manager, Griffin Group; Dana Welch, marketing manager – Canada, Tourism Ireland;  Jim Deegan, Railtours Ireland; Alison Deegan, business development manager, Manor House Hotels of Ireland; Mary Hartnett, group sales & marketing manager, Killarney Plaza Hotel & Spa; Katie Daly, sales & marketing manager, Specialized Travel Services; Eamonn McEneaney, museum director, Waterford Treasures; Suzanne Meade, business development manager, Edward Hotels.