Gaining popularity in the last couple of years, Ireland recently witnessed a double digit growth from the India market. In 2017, the destination welcomed 38,000 travellers from India.
Speaking about the growth in India market Siobhan McManamy, Director of Markets, Tourism Ireland said, “We witnessed 38,000 Indian visitors in 2017 and we think that will increase by 15-20 per cent in 2018, as we are waiting for the final numbers. We expect a similar double digit growth in 2019 as well. India is a very important market for us and is growing very fast.”
The British-Irish Visa Scheme has also played a key role in the increased visitor numbers to Ireland. Also, this scheme will be beneficial during the upcoming Cricket World Cup which is set to happen in UK.
McManamy added, “The UK Northern Ireland joint visa scheme has been great and we have seen a lot of growth. We are also seeing tour operators putting a lot of Ireland only itineraries now. One of the tour operators recently launched an 11 days Ireland only programme which is really great for us. The length of stay and spending has increased from the India market. Cricket is getting very popular in Ireland. We think that people who will attend the world cup will spend a few days in Ireland as well either before or after. It’s just a short flight so we look for an increase in numbers during the World Cup.”
The destination recently organised its sales mission in India to promote new attractions and offerings. One of the new offerings for the India market is the popular Guinness Storehouse tour. Speaking about the experience Paul Carty, Managing Director, Guinness Storehouse said, “We have a tour which takes about two hours and we take travellers around the building and the tour is very informative. We also teach the history and the heritage of the family. We also have restaurants in the building, where we also teach how to pair beer with food. We are Ireland’s number one tourist attraction with a footfall of 1.7 million visitors last year. We hope to welcome many more Indians for our tours.”
Also, in the recent years Ireland has gained popularity as a film shooting destination. “The Game of Thrones, Star wars was filmed in Ireland, we have had two Bollywood productions as well previously and we would love to have more. Film Ireland looks after the film shootings in Ireland and they provide some attractive incentives for film makers to shoot here. We are seeing a lot of interests from producers. We have iconic and historic locations to offer for any kind of Bollywood movies,” McManamy added.
Ireland is also now looking to promote festival tourism on a larger scale. “Halloween is a festival from Ireland, so we are planning and developing this in a big way. We will have the festival whole month around November and in various sites. Over the next five years we want to make it a really world renowned festival and want to attract travellers specifically to celebrate Halloween in Ireland. St. Patrick is our current big celebration and apart from Dublin this year we will have big celebrations in five other cities as well,” McManamy added.