India is an emerging market for Tourism Ireland and the potential is immense. Last year, the destination welcomed over 27,500 Indian travellers, which is an increase of 14% over 2014. “With an efficient visa regime and great flight connections in place, this year too, we are hopeful of receiving over 30,000 Indian visitors as visa applications are already up by 20% between January to June 2016,” informed Niall Gibbons, CEO, Tourism Ireland on the sidelines of the Tourism Ireland’s 2016 India Sales Mission. The event covering New Delhi and Mumbai witnessed about 200 buyers in total.
Talking about the impact of Brexit, Gibbons added that it is hard to measure right now how the Brexit will impact in the long term. “Post Brexit, it is significant to diversify into newer markets and thus we are reviewing our source markets at the moment. As part of market diversification, we have made submission to the Ireland Government for increase in budget for tourism promotion globally. The Asian markets contribute 6 to 7% in visitor numbers and from India there has been double digit growth year on year which goes on to show that the travellers confidence has been steady over the years.”
He revealed that Emirates has plans to increase the flight frequency to Ireland from next year and Tourism Ireland looks forward to do joint campaigns with the carrier at the time of launch.
The theme of this India Sales Mission was Screen Tourism promoting the shooting locations of Game of Thrones and Star Wars. The goal was to reach out to the fan base of the series in India and showcase the stunning locations in Northern Ireland and encourage Indian travellers to experience the beauty of Northern Ireland.
Beena Menon, India Representative, Tourism Ireland elaborated, “Ireland is picking up as a MICE and self-drive destination. The conferences coming in to Ireland from India are increasing year on year. The self drive routes too are much in demand such as The Wild Atlantic Way which is Ireland’s only long distance (2,500 km) driving route and Causeway Coastal Route of Game of Thrones fame. Indian travellers mostly prefer experiential travel, soft adventure sports and the Irish Whiskey Trail.”
She also confirmed that the average length of stay of leisure visitors is up to eight nights while MICE travellers stay for about four nights. On the awareness front, so far approx. 1000 Indian agents have been certified under the Tourism Ireland online training programme.