TORONTO — More than 190,000 Canadians travelled to Ireland last year, and 30% came courtesy of the travel trade, according to Tourism Ireland.
At yesterday’s roadshow event in Toronto, Tourism Ireland’s Executive Vice President, USA & Canada Alison Metcalfe was on hand to share the results and challenge the Canadian team to make it over the 200,000 mark in 2016. Increased air capacity and marketing efforts to promote Ireland as a year-round destination were seen as the main reasons for the 56% increase in traffic over the past two years.
Tourism Ireland will continue to grow the market through investment in campaigns centered around the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink, and the Dublin’s Doorstep campaign, said Metcalfe.
Other key attractions include:
- Game of Thrones continues to bring T.V. fans to many of the filming sites, with new signage in place to help visitors find the filming locations like the Dark Hedges.
- Movie buffs are also heading to Ireland with one of the pivotal scenes in the new Star Wars movie being filmed at Skellig Michael. A visitor centre has been set up for the small island and tourists can get there via boat tours.
- The Gobbins, a new attraction for tourists in Northern Ireland, re-opened last summer after a 62-year hiatus.
- The Causeway Costal Route continues to be a main attraction for Northern Ireland.
- With food and drink being a main focus, microbreweries are now becoming a key part of travellers’ experiences.
Many tour operators and hoteliers were in attendance for the roadshow, revealing some interesting trends that the destination is seeing:
- LGBT weddings – Many hoteliers said they were surprised by the rise in destination weddings from the LGBT community. “With the referendum overwhelmingly in favour of gay marriage, it really sent the message that the people of Ireland support the community,” said Mairead Cullen, Director of Sales for the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel. Hotelier Liam Griffin, Managing Director of The Griffin Group, said he’s been surprised that groups from as far as Australia have been coming to Ireland to make their vows.
- Intergenerational travel – Metcalfe sees this as a big growth sector for Ireland, with many Baby Boomer parents travelling with their grown children. Both groups see Ireland as a bucket-list destination, she added.
- Millennials & ‘Culturally Curious’ – Tourism Ireland has a name for 45+ travellers with a higher education and income: ‘culturally curious’. Tourism Ireland is also seeing plenty of Millennials attracted by the mix of Dublin culture and scenery.
- Spas – Not something that Ireland is known for, because there really is only one. Monart Destination Spa is located just outside of Dublin, but boasts a 91% occupancy rate. Admittedly a lot of the guests are Irish, but the international audience is growing.