Ireland strengthens Australian ties

Ireland strengthens Australian ties
By admin

Australia has emerged as one of Ireland’s top performing markets as economic woes take their toll on visitor numbers from some overseas markets.

Speaking to Travel Today at Tourism Ireland’s Sydney roadshow, head of Australia and developing markets, Jim Paul, revealed that Australian visitor numbers have grown around 7% this year to date. Approximately 150,000 Australians are expected to visit Ireland in 2012, compared with 140,000 in 2011.

While volume is important, the “quality” of Australian tourists makes them even more valuable to the destination, he added.

“On average, Australians spend 12 days in Ireland, they travel around and they come off season,” he told Travel Today. The overall average length of stay is around five or six nights.

Paul identified the strong Australian dollar as an "obvious" driver for visitation from Down Under, but said improved air access has also played a “massive” role.

Emirates and Etihad now operate 17 direct weekly flights from the Middle East into Dublin. This number may increase in the future, with Emirates apparently keen to take its daily service to twice daily.

Meanwhile, family ties between the two countries are also a massive driver, with around 2.2 million Aussies claiming Irish ancestry.

Tourism Ireland will further leverage these ties with its hosting of the Gathering 2013, an incentive for those with Irish blood to pay a visit to the Emerald Isle.

Derry-Londonderry’s status as the inaugural UK City of Culture  in 2013 is also expected to encourage tourists, Paul said.

But he highlighted the similarities between Australians and the Irish as a major incentive for visitors to the country.

“Ireland is being voted regularly as the friendliest country in the world, and that fits so well with the Australian mentality," he said.

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