Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar is on a whistle-stop trip to four North American cities to promote Irish tourism and the Gathering Ireland 2013, the year-long festival of festivals taking place next year.
With The Gathering just a few months away, the Minister’s visit coincides with a new €19 million global marketing campaign promoting a visit to Ireland, and is being organised in conjunction with Tourism Ireland. He will also officially open ‘Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum’ at Quinnipiac University.
The US and Canada are two of Ireland’s most important tourism markets, and were worth a combined €696 million to the Irish economy in 2011. There were more than a million trips to Ireland from the US and Canada last year. While visits from North America fell somewhat up to end-July this year, air access from North America to Ireland will increase in 2013.
“The Gathering Ireland 2013 promises to be the biggest tourism event ever held in Ireland. We need to make sure the message gets out to visit Ireland in 2013, particularly in our key markets like the US and Canada,” Minister Varadkar said.
“The US and Canada will be crucial to the success of the Gathering Ireland. One of the biggest tourism events this year was the American college football game between Notre Dame and Naval Academy in the Aviva Stadium. The impact of that one game alone, in which more than 25,000 people travelled from the US, shows the huge potential of the North American market for Irish tourism and the importance of attracting new visitors.”
So far Minister Varadkar has attended Gathering launches in New York and Chicago, and will attend further launches in Boston and Toronto before returning to Ireland. He is meeting with industry representatives and tour operators, and will today open the Great Hunger museum in Quinnipiac University. There is also a heavy focus on media interviews to promote a visit to Ireland next year.
The visit includes meetings with representatives of United Airlines, Fox TV, and tourism operators including Sceptre Tours, American Express, CIE Tours, the Boston Chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (a network of 8,000 business operators), and the Boston Irish Tourism Association.
The media schedule includes planned appearances on NBC News, Canada AM, WFAN (sports radio), and the Out of Ireland programme (broadcast on 30 TV stations across America). It also includes interviews with The Irish Echo, The Irish Voice, IrishCentral.com, Irish American News, European Traveler, Irish Connections, Boston Irish Reporter, Canadian Travel Press, and the Midwest Travel Writers Association. (In the domestic Irish market, the Gathering is being organised by Failte Ireland.)