Brexit raises the stakes at Ireland’s biggest trade event for tourism industry
The longest established and most important travel trade event for the Irish tourism industry gets underway today (Tuesday 2nd April). Running since 1975, Meitheal is Fáilte Ireland’s flagship trade event, which is organised in conjunction with Tourism Ireland, and is staged over two days to enable businesses in the Irish tourism industry to pitch face-to-face to hugely influential international buyers.
This year’s event is being billed as the most significant in Meitheal’s history with the possibility of a no-deal Brexit looming. In the case of a hard Brexit, Fáilte Ireland’s research shows that Ireland could lose more than 1millon overseas tourists from Britain alone as well as other core markets, which could cost the tourism sector €380m and 10,000 jobs in the first year.
Meitheal is bringing together over 600 Irish tourism businesses and 300 international buyers and tour operators from more than 22 countries including Britain, Germany, France, the US, the Middle East, China and India. This marks the largest attendance at Meitheal to date with a 25% increase in the number of international buyers and a 21% growth the number of Irish businesses attending the workshop compared to last year. They’ll be showcasing the best of what they offer with the prize aim of being scheduled on the itineraries of the global tour operators. More than 13,500 appointments or ‘pitch meetings’ have been scheduled and deals worth millions of euro to the Irish economy will be signed over the next two days.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross said:“The Government is absolutely committed to growing tourism in Ireland and helping industry prepare for Brexit. Meitheal is the largest tourism event of its kind in Ireland and it is a hugely important event that provides a unique platform for selling everything we have to offer. This event wouldn’t be possible without the great work being done by individual businesses and communities across Ireland to attract visitors and I want to pay tribute to them.”
Minister of State for Tourism, Brendan Griffin further emphasised: “At over 300, the number of international buyers from 22 countries attending this year is a huge vote of confidence in Irish tourism. I wish the many hundreds attending Meitheal every success over the next two days as they meet directly with overseas buyers. Great credit is due to the team at Fáilte Ireland for organising this fantastic initiative that is now in its 44th year.”
This year, for the first time, the Business Tourism market will also be targeted by the Irish trade, with international business events and conference planners from the US, Canada, Britain, France and Germany attending. Fáilte Ireland has identified Business Tourism as a priority sector as it helps businesses prepare for Brexit.
It is also the first time the Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands regional experience brand will be unveiled to the overseas market.
Fáilte Ireland’s CEO Paul Kelly said:“Last year was a ‘best-ever’ for tourism in Ireland. The industry now generates €7.8bn in revenue and employs 260,000 people. To maintain this momentum the industry must intensify its international sales focus, showcase Ireland as a highly authentic holiday destination; and demonstrate a willingness and ability to adapt to ever-changing markets and consumer preferences. This is even more important now as we face Brexit and the challenges it brings to the wider industry.
“Through initiatives like Meitheal, Fáilte Ireland works closely with Tourism Ireland to select, attract and host high quality international buyers at Meitheal. We also work hand in glove with tourism partners to find ways to develop and enhance our offerings to attract visitors from all corners of the globe. This year’s event will have a strong focus on retaining business from the UK, as well as winning business from other lucrative markets. I’m confident our overseas delegates will see first-hand what it is that sets Ireland apart as an outstanding visitor destination.”
Meitheal is the only event of its scale that brings overseas buyers to Ireland to meet tourism businesses directly on home ground and is invaluable for the Irish trade. The overseas buyers were brought on several fact-finding tours across the country by Fáilte Ireland this weekend, ahead of attending Meitheal. These bespoke itineraries were designed by Fáilte Ireland to give the overseas buyers a first-hand experience of what holidaymakers can expect to see and do while in Ireland, be they leisure or business tourism visitors.