Ireland welcomes more GCC guests

MAKING a return to Arabian Travel Market (ATM) after a two-year absence, Tourism Ireland highlighted new marketing initiatives that are helping grow visitor numbers from the region.

The number of visitors to Ireland from the GCC has increased by 15 per cent compared to year-to-date visitor numbers in 2012, according to Tourism Ireland. 

Increased flight connectivity into Ireland from the UAE and initiatives such as the Short Stay Visa-Waiver Scheme, which permits GCC nationals in possession of a valid UK visa automatic entry into Ireland, are thought to be significant factors behind the success.

“Greater accessibility for Middle East residents, particularly through Emirates in Dubai and Etihad in Abu Dhabi, plays a significant factor in increased visitor numbers, with 17 flights per week from the UAE now in operation,” says Thomas Redmond, Tourism Ireland’s representative in the GCC.

Redmond also highlighted ‘The Gathering Ireland 2013’ year-long initiative that aims to boost tourism overseas through a diverse roster of events.  2013 is also a unique year for Northern Ireland as Derry-Londonderry plays host to the first ever UK City of Culture with an ambitions calendar will see more than 150 events and performances take place by the year’s end, including hosting the prestigious Turner Prize – the first time the event has been held outside England.