Bilbao and Bizkaia Tourism hosted the trade in great style and with mouth-watering food prepared by Michelin Chefs who flew to Dublin especially for the promotional event.
There are now more than 50,000 seats to Bilbao this summer with up to eight flights ,with two of these on Saturday, per week with Aer Lingus.
The trade learned about the ‘Hiria,Ura and Natura’ (city, water and nature) attractions that make Bilbao andBizkaia a top destination for visitors.
As the largest city in the Basque region, Bilbao hosts a number of ‘Hiria’ highlights including the iconic Museo Guggenheim, which is home to works by Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons among others; the 45-metre-high Puente de Vizcaya Bridge across the Nervión River, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s oldest fully-functioning transporter bridge that also offers panoramic views from an aerial walkway; and the Euskalduna Concert Hall, which has one of the largest auditoriums in Europe and regularly hosts performances from world-class artists.
Other city highlights include one of the world’s top five most valuable classic car collections at Tore Loizaga, which houses 45 mint-condition Rolls-Royces, and numerous other museums and cathedrals, as well as the Mercado de la Ribera, Europe’s largest indoor market.
Sport fans can visit the home of the successful soccer club Athletic Bilbao and enjoy the ‘Ura’ attractions, including exhilarating surf at Mundaka, which is famed for 4-metre-high and 400-metre-long tubes that have hosted Kelly Slater and other champions at the World Tour nine times. Mundaka is also a charming seaside town with plenty for the whole family to explore.
‘Natura’ enthusiasts venturing outside of Bilbao can enjoy unspoilt and authentic countryside in the Bizkaia province, at the gateway to the Basque region. With the Basque Mountains to the south, the coastline of Bermeo to the north, the diverse geography of the Urdaibai UNESCO Biosphere Reserve offers the chance for visitors to enjoy a variety of activities, from getting lost in Oma’s Enchanted Forest and discovering the Pozalagua Caves. The caves include an enormous collection of rare helictites (eccentrically branching stalactites).
Guests at the showcase also enjoyed traditional Trikitrixa (a diatonic accordion, specific to the Bilbao and Bizkaia region) and tambourine music performed live by Basque musicians Xabi Aburruzaga and Joseba Urrutia, as well as the local gastronomy specialities of Txakoli wine and Pintxos – tapas-style bites prepared by Daniel García and Jabier Gartzia, two of Bizkaia’s many Michelin-starred chefs (the Basque region boasts 29 Michelin stars with nine in Bilbao alone).
Irish travel trade guests met with various Basque-based tourism and travel companies, including destination management companies Romotur, Bilbao Paso a Paso, Bitravel, North Incoming Service, STI, and Gobasquing; accommodations with 4-star and 5-star ratings such as Gran Hotel Domine, Aranzazu Hotels, Ercilla Hotels, Zenit Hotels and the Ilunion Hotels; country home provider Nekatur; the Bilbao Tourism Board and Bizkaia Tourism Board.