Ireland means business at WTM

Tourism Ireland has launched a new campaign which aims to increase visitor numbers from the UK to the island next year.

The new strategy, launched at World Travel Market yesterday with comedian Patrick Kielty and the cast of Riverdance, will target both business and leisure visitors.

The move follows what chief executive Niall Gibbons (pictured with Patrick Kielty) described as “one of the most difficult years for tourism” to the country.

Speaking at the World Travel Market, Gibbons said:

“The new strategy sums up our determination but also illustrates and showcases to the British travel market and the British traveller how Ireland is a serious destination for leisure, short breaks or business leisure.”

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The campaign will see Tourism Ireland forging closer links with group organisers, coach operators, wholesalers and specialists through a series of workshops and events, as well as strengthening its relationship with the trade through the Best of Britain and Ireland Travel Trade Forum in March 2010.

The organisation will also increase awareness of Ireland in the UK through greater engagement with the public.

Ireland is also planning to make next year’s St Patrick’s Day the biggest consumer event of the year.

Gibbons added: “By using this event to promote Irish culture and the island of Ireland we will create a desire to visit Ireland and experience Irish culture first hand.”

Tourism Ireland is also promoting business and meetings tourism to the island, which has suffered particularly badly in the recession.

Gibbons said “Ireland is in a unique position to meet the predicament organisations and companies will find themselves in over the next three or four years – that of supplying their staff with conferences, events, seminars and incentives in an ex-UK destination that offers a high quality infrastructure of resorts, amenities, conference centres and golf and relaxation venues.”

A number of new projects will be taking place over the next two years to further boost tourism, including the new Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport.

Two new conference centres will be opening in the capital –  Dublin’s Aviva Stadium and the Convention Centre Dublin, allowing the city to cater for larger numbers of delegates.

In terms of the leisure market, the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre and the Titantic Centenary in Belfast, are both set to open.