Game on for Irish tourism

Game on for Irish tourism

Camaraderie and a shared love of rugby was on the menu at an Irish tourism lunch attended by around 20 people in Auckland on Friday. Tourism Ireland New Zealand welcomed Irish Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan to the country with the luncheon attended by their Australian peers as well as representatives from the Consulate General of Ireland in New Zealand, the tourism trade and airlines.
The minister was on a visit to New Zealand and Australia to muster support for Ireland’s tourism industry and the country’s bid for the 2023 World Cup.

He is one of about 20 Irish ministers who are travelling internationally this week to promote the country before St Patrick’s Day on 17 March.
O’Donovan told the group that Ireland, a country of 6.5 million people, pulled almost 11 million tourists – a figure the Emerald Isles is hoping to grow to 12 million by 2020. The visitors generated €5 billion in revenue for the country.
Tourism is a very important part of the economy for the country, he says, adding Ireland looks to New Zealand as a big growth market, which it is hoping to grow through sport as well as strengthened ties to airlines that directly deliver travellers there from transit spots such as the Middle East and Europe.
‘The Irish government will do whatever it can to work with industry to ensure ease of access for Kiwis visiting Ireland,’ he says.
Hosting the next rugby world cup was a significant part of future promotions for the minister, who left the lunch to discuss the topic with government officials in Wellington.
And, from the luncheon at least, the country’s bid already has the thumbs up.
All Blacks Tours general manager David Caldwell says when it comes to losing a rugby match, a loss to Ireland is the only poor result Kiwis are likely to be OK with.
‘We wish Ireland every success with its 2023 bid. New Zealanders would enjoy going to Ireland for the Cup... and we’re right behind it,’ Caldwell says.
O’Donovan also told trade the country’s decision to abolish its air passenger tax in 2014 had encouraged more airlift, and opened the country up as being a true UK/Europe gateway.
Ireland’s preclearance arrangement with the United States is also a drawcard, the minister says: ‘We are the only EU country to have that – about 10% of passengers use Dublin Airport to transit into the US.’
And while O’Donovan says heritage and the landscape are a pull, the Irish people are the country’s greatest asset.
‘You can’t bottle that or put a label on it. Travellers who are surveyed always remark on the genuine welcome of the people.’
Ireland has for generations enjoyed a strong welcome internationally as its ‘best and brightest’ had to be sent into the world, he adds. ‘And that is why we look after people when they visit... as our own people have been when they visit places such as New Zealand.’
– Lisa Bradley

ProMag Publishing