Thanks to its ancient castles, lush green landscapes and world-famous pints of Guinness, tourism is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry.
And this year, Canadians will have more access than ever to see the Emerald Isle for themselves.
Ireland: closer than ever
Flight capacity to Ireland from Canada will reach record numbers this May to October season, climbing to 13,000 seats per week come peak summertime, Tourism Ireland says.
This is due to new direct routes to Dublin, Ireland’s capital, from Hamilton, ON, via Norwegian (starting in March), Calgary, AB, via WestJet (starting in June) and, towards the end of summer, Montreal, QC, via Aer Lingus.
WestJet’s incoming Calgary-Dublin service, notably, unfolds in tandem with the airline’s new 787-9 Dreamliner, which premiered in the skies this year.
“Our capacity is up 50 per cent,” Dana Welch, manager, Canada for Tourism Ireland, told PAX last night at Toronto’s Storys Building, where the tourism board concluded a week-long sales mission called the Best of Ireland.
The cross-country event, which included stops in Vancouver, Calgary, and Hamilton, featured a cast of 10 delegates from Ireland representing local tourism enterprises and four Canadian partners – Globus, CIE tours, Royal Irish Tours and Collette.
Up to 80 travel agents from each region were invited to build relationships and learn more about Ireland’s latest products in a speed-dating style format.
The tour was part of a greater effort to work more closely with Canada’s travel trade as travel agents and tour operators continue to be an important booking channel for Canadian holidaymakers, the tourism board stated.
Canadians are loving Ireland
Last year, roughly 225,000 Canadians visited Ireland, which is reflective of an ongoing upward trend, Welch said.
“There’s an opportunity to come to Ireland anytime of the year,” Welch told PAX, noting the country’s comfortable year-round climate.
Ireland’s booming food scene is one of the tourism board’s proudest assets, specifically local food tours in off-the-beaten path destinations and farm-to-table industries.
“There’s traditional [Irish] dishes like bacon and cabbage and Guinness stew and we have talented chefs that are putting a modern twist on all those dishes,” Welch said.
Ireland is rich in agriculture and directly beside an ocean. “A lot of restaurants can trace where their ingredients came from,” Welch said.
Head to Belfast in Northern Ireland, where local producers are crafting products like none other. “There’s this chocolate shop where a lady has been working on a brownie for the past couple of years and it has the same calorie count as a banana and it tastes amazing and delicious,” Welch said.
Ireland is a great opportunity to connect with ancient history. Newgrange in County Meath, for example, is a prehistoric grand passage tomb that was built during the Neolithic period, making it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.
“If you pause and think about that, it’s pretty incredible,” Welch said.
Castles, too, are a common sight when travelling the Irish countryside – some, such as Ashford Castle, have even been converted into hotels.
Getting the best value
Ireland’s “shoulder season,” which is from November to April, is the best time of year to get the best value in Ireland, Welch said, from cheaper prices to less lines at attractions.
“Even if it’s cold outside, you’re still in a cozy castle or pub,” she said.
Welch advised travel agents to be mindful of Ireland’s thriving year-round golf scene, which includes the annual Irish Open in July, as it can make for a great add-on.
Welch noted that travel agents are always welcome to visit Tourism Ireland’s offices in downtown Toronto if they ever need marketing materials, and that her office has plenty of Ireland-related images for their social media, if needed.
Travel agents can learn more about Ireland at trade.ireland.com.
The tourism office also has helpful videos on how travellers can prepare for a trip to Ireland, such as packing tips. See a sample below!
Ireland has launched a new global campaign for the first time in seven years.
Fill Your Heart With Ireland sent a real couple (not actors) on a trip to Ireland for the first time. They each wore a heart monitor bracelet and camera, and each time their heart rate increased (out of excitement) or slowed down (out of relaxation), a photograph was taken.
The images collected from that unique experiment were compiled and are now at the centre of the Tourism Ireland’s latest promo video. Watch it below!
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