A delegation from Tourism Ireland visited Auckland early November for the biennial trade mission to Australia and New Zealand. Supported by Emirates, the nine representatives were joined by Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive, Tourism Ireland, and NZ Tourism Ireland representatives, Darragh Walshe and Mary Galway. The following report is by Stu Freeman, Director of ProMag Publishing and Travel Inc. in New Zealand.
Speaking to industry members at lunch on the Floating Pavilion on Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour, Gibbons outlined that tourism to Ireland brings in NZ$5 billion per year, creating 250,000 tourism related jobs. This past year has seen a record 24,000 Kiwis travel to the Emerald Isle, and he attributes this in part to the direct, daily Dubai – Dublin service introduced by Emirates in January this year. “It’s two jumps from Australia and just three from New Zealand (from Auckland) and travellers land straight into Dubllin – no transiting through London or European points. Another plus for visitors to Ireland is that the hotels are the third cheapest in Europe,” says Gibbons.
Ireland is in Emirates’ top 10 for selling destinations and Chris Lethbridge, Emirates, says there is potential to increase capacity further into Dublin should the need arise. As an incentive to retailers, he mentioned that the top sellers of the EK Earlybird deals will be participating on an exclusive fam trip to Dublin in 2013.
The Gathering, a one-year-long Irish event, kicks off New Year’s Eve and has drawn attention from across the globe. Gibbons set out some of the events taking place including a gathering of twins, people with red hair, and name gatherings, e.g. – the Jones, or his particular favourite, the Gallagher clan, which hopes to gather 5,000 clan members to the town of Donegal.
A light lunch was served and Mary Galway, Tourism Ireland, suggested diners try the ‘Hot Irishman’, something Mary put together herself. For those who thought differently – it was actually a type of Irish coffee.