Ireland prepares for 2013 influx

Ireland prepares for 2013 influx
By admin

A packed program of events to be held in Ireland in 2013 will see the destination capitalise on its cultural connections with Australia, with the trade set to play a critical role.

Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons told Travel Today that Ireland is an “easy sell” in the Australian market, further fuelled by favourable economic factors and improved air connectivity.

But the complexity of long-haul holidays means well trained agents are critical.

“Most of our Australian visitors come through the trade, probably about three quarters and maybe even more,” he said. “If you’re going as part of a holiday, it can be a complicated picture that you’re building up, so people want to be able to talk to someone.”

Australia, along with the US, Canada and the UK, will be a key focus for next year’s The Gathering event which aims to draw those with Irish ties back for a visit with a year long calendar of events. It will run at the same time as Derry-Londonderry’s tenure as UK city of culture 2013.

“It will reconnect a lot of people to Ireland that maybe haven’t been for a while,” Gibbons said.

The event is expected to draw an additional 320,000 visitors on the 7.4 million expected in 2012, with an additional 170 million euro to be spent on top of the 3.6 billion euro forecast this year.

Infrastructure in the destination is already set up for the huge influx of visitors, with around 60,000 hotel rooms, a new terminal at Dublin Airport and an updated road network.

The tourism body launched the event to the trade during a trade mission across New Zealand and Australia this week.

A new website will follow in coming weeks to further push the event, with additional marketing to follow through print and social media.

The destination now has a "very strong" social media presence with around 1 million followers on Facebook, coming third after Australia and Spain.

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