Fáilte Ireland views India as one of the important emerging markets and is looking to increase the visitor numbers from India to 40,000-50,000 in a period of five years from 21,000 in 2012. In 2013, Tourism Ireland is looking to increase this number to 25,000 due to the success of short-stay visa waiver programme. “We are expecting a double-digit growth in Indian arrivals every year. Over the years, there has been a consistent YoY growth of 17 percent in Indian arrivals and it will continue to grow,” informed Huzan Fraser, India Representative, Tourism Ireland.
Fáilte Ireland recently invited a group of travel journalists from across the globe to showcase their niche upcoming product- ‘Get Sporty in Ireland’. This trip showcased Ireland’s core traditions and the Irish love for sports. The trip highlighted the Gaelic Games and rural Irish traditions and how they can be incorporated into any itinerary or incentive programme for a complete Irish experience. “When it comes to experiencing real Ireland, there is nothing like incorporating Ireland’s unique national sports,” stated a tourism board official.The year 2013 for Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland is all about promoting their traditions, values and culture.
The Gaelic Games experience
Fáilte Ireland, in conjunction with the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association), have worked together to give tourists easier access to experience first-hand the oldest field sport in the world. The objective of this initiative by Fáilte Ireland is to attract large numbers of tourists to Ireland and promote the benefits of Ireland as a tourist location. The main focus of the initiative is the promotion of Ireland as a ‘natural sports arena’.
Even for non-sports fans, there’s something about hurling and Gaelic football, the two field sports that have a long history in Ireland and is a major pull for tourists who are coming to experience traditional Ireland. For tourists, conference delegates and incentive groups, there are a number of ways to experience Gaelic Games or without attending a match at all such as learning to pick up a sliotar with a hurl etc. The ‘Kikenny Way’ is aimed at promoting Kilkenny on its Hurling success. “These are unique national games, brought to visitors in an innovative fun way,” explained PJ Lanigan, Co Founder, The Kilkenny Way. “We explain the tourist about 3,000 years of culture, the fastest field sport in the world and show teach them the fundamental skills and build challenges and team building around that,” he added. Talking about the India market, Georgina Caraher of Experience Gaelic Games said, “India is a very new market and we have received an incentive and a student group since our inception. But we are receiving encouraging response from Asia, particularly from India and China.”
Keeping the rural Irish Culture, Nature and Traditions alive
The trip also included a visit to a 17th century ‘Conamara clochán’ (a hill-village) situated on a drumlin hill amidst 200 acres of expansive primordial bogland, surrounded by lakes, bogs, seas, and mountains. Tourists visiting the hill-village enjoy the cluster of restored traditional cottages, buildings and little stone-walled green fields. “Our aim is to promote Cnoc Suain hill-village as a cultural site. We want to make Irish culture and nature reachable, and where both day visitors and residential guests leaving Cnoc Suain feel well informed and enriched by an enjoyable learning experience,” said Charlie Troy, Owner, Cnoc Suain- Hill Village.
The itinerary also included a visit to Highbank Orchard Farm in Cuffesgrange, as well as tour of the Kilkenny Castle.
The Gathering Ireland 2013
The Gathering Ireland 2013 is a tourism-led initiative in Ireland. It aims to gather together the Irish diaspora to return to Ireland during 2013 to be part of specially organised local gatherings and events during the year. It is a government supported initiative driven primarily by Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, and Tourism Ireland. “The Gathering has been a huge success so far. We are pleasantly happy by the way the festivities have panned out. The whole year has been just a huge celebration,” a Fáilte Ireland official opined.
The way forward for tourism
Fáilte Ireland recently welcomed the launch of a wide-ranging review of tourism policy by Leo Varadkar, The Minister for Transport, Tourism& Sport according to a media release. Welcoming the start of a public consultation process to develop a new tourism policy, Shaun Quinn, CEO of Fáilte Ireland said, “In the last year, tourism has reached a new phase where, for the first time since the global downturn, businesses are now moving from consolidation and survival to seeking out new sources of additional customers and revenue. Speaking at the launch, Quinn emphasised that the future of Irish tourism will be rooted in international demand. Quinn opined that tourism needs to figure out how to get better and better at delivering compelling and authentic consumer experiences. Moreover, tourism needs to meet the challenge (and opportunity) of digital media and create the attractive creative content to suit social media and present Ireland as a cool and compelling place to visit, he added.
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