Overseas tourism to the island of Ireland continues to rebound in the first year post pandemic limitations – according to Tourism Ireland. Air access to Ireland is up for winter 2019, including from two of the island’s biggest source markets, Great Britain (at 103% of 2019 levels) and North America (112%). Hotel occupancy is also ahead of 2019 levels, albeit with the caveat that the industry is operating in a new reality, with 13% of rooms under contract for humanitarian reasons.
As Tourism Ireland prepares for 2024, the organisation is mounting a significant presence at World Travel Market (WTM) in London this week, with around 75 tourism companies from the island of Ireland on its stand – from premium hotels, whiskey distilleries and jaunting car tours to visitor activities and hidden gems of heritage. Over the coming days, around 2,800 meetings will be conducted on the Ireland stand, delivering overseas tourism business for Ireland next year worth millions of euro. Tourism Ireland will be bringing together those Irish tourism providers who have more capacity to welcome visitors with international tour operators with the skills and scale to bring valuable tourists to the island.
WTM marks the beginning of the promotional drive overseas for 2024. It’s the largest B2B event in the global travel and tourism calendar.
Alice Mansergh, Chief Executive Designate of Tourism Ireland, said: “As we look to 2024, our presence at World Travel Market is really important to kick-start our promotional drive overseas. In our first full year post pandemic, every tourism business is eager for recovery. When we talk to tourism operators across the island of Ireland, we know that overseas tourism is playing a vital role.
“We are delighted to have around 75 tourism companies from across the island of Ireland joining us at this year’s WTM, for an estimated 2,800 commercial meetings with international tour operators. We facilitate connections between the world’s leading tour operators and diverse tourism businesses across the island of Ireland, helping introduce overseas visitors to delightful experiences on our island and strengthening the spread of the economic and social benefits that tourism brings.”
Tourism Ireland’s message at WTM is that the island of Ireland has so much to offer across regions and seasons. The organisation will be showcasing iconic reasons to travel to Ireland, expanding people’s bucket lists from best-known spots to our hidden gems. It’s an exciting year ahead, as 2024 marks the 10th anniversary of the Wild Atlantic Way, providing Tourism Ireland with another great hook to showcase the iconic route. Tourism Ireland will be promoting Belfast 2024, a programme of cultural events taking place across the city. Next year, Tourism Ireland will dial up its ‘Ireland, Home of Halloween’ message, celebrating the island of Ireland as the birthplace of one of the world’s most celebrated festivals, and ultimately growing Halloween in Ireland to be an iconic ‘must do’ in the shoulder season.
Tourism Ireland brings a sensory burst of nature to WTM this year, with a spectacular wildflower installation and an interactive area to listen to the sounds of nature on its stand. The installation consists entirely of Irish planting and has been designed by Worm, a floral design studio in East London which is owned by two Irish women. Visitors to the stand can also enjoy the ‘sounds of Ireland’ – they’ll be able to don headphones to listen to the soothing sounds of the sea, our forests, cosy pubs and the spoken word from some of our best-loved poets.