Improving awareness of Ireland’s assets
IRELAND has received seven million visitors so far this year, with a total of nine million in 2007. Of that, the Middle East contributed 12,000, with most visitors coming from the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
According to Aiveen Ryan, account manager, Tourism Ireland GCC, the Middle East is an important new and developing market for Ireland which has only had representation here for less than two years.
She said that Ireland as a whole had suffered a drop in tourist numbers from the global perspective and traditionally strong markets such as the USA, but the Middle East was still growing, albeit from a low base with more locals and families than before now visiting Ireland.
By focusing attention on its five star country and castle hotels or resorts, spa’s, world class golf courses, horse racing, local artisan food, as well as the beautiful natural environment, Ireland is also being promoted as a high end destination for the luxury traveller.
“Awareness of Ireland as a holiday destination is still relatively low in the Middle East among the local populations, so we focus on increasing awareness and educating the travel trade,” said Ryan.
Travel agents and tour operators are offered regular training in Dubai and trade familiarisations or educational trips, and Tourism Ireland offers brochures and assorted collateral such as DVD’s on many of the regions as well as major centres such as Dublin and Belfast. Regular e-zines and a UAE administered website, www.discoverireland.ae and an Arabic website and brochure are also available.