01 MAR 2017:  Much of Old Europe might be battling various industry concerns that have been in the headlines lately but there’s one destination, as senior tourism executives noted, that has come off a Canadian record breaking year. So, as we lead up to St. Patrick’s Day – what better month than March to kick off with a story on Ireland.

Tourism Ireland officials alongside 11 tourism companies held an industry workshop in Toronto recently which was part of a four-city sales blitz including Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton to remind agents why the Emerald Isle needs a closer look when choosing destinations.

“It’s been the best year ever - north, south, west, east - every part of Ireland,” says Shane Clarke, director of corporate services and policy for Tourism Ireland, in a one-on-one with Travel Industry Today.

Tourism Ireland reports 10.5 million visitors visited the Emerald Isle in its latest tourism figures which has contributed to an overall tourism spend of €5 billion.

Record breaking: Canada

Canada, it was noted, is becoming increasingly important. Alison Metcalfe who oversees North America for Tourism Ireland says Canadians broke arrival records last year.

“We had 210,000 Canadians for the first time,” adding that over the past three years, Ireland has noted a 56 percent growth in Canadian arrivals.

Tourism Ireland attributes the Canadian success story to year-round access and the great value in local tourism products. “There are over 7,000 seats leaving every single week,” says Alison on the five gateways across Canada. “When it’s easy to get to, it will help grow business.”

In addition, year-round air access from Canada has allowed the Tourism Board to double Canadian investment in its national marketing program. “We went from essentially operating a marketing programme primarily in Ontario to a national marketing programme,” she explains.

No matter what time of year, Dana Welch, marketing manager in Canada for Tourism Ireland says Ireland makes a great year-round destination.

“Festivals take place throughout the year,” she says on the heels of the country’s largest festival, Saint Patrick’s Day, which is a public holiday to commemorate Ireland’s patron saint in March.

Now for more reasons to book trips to Ireland:

Delicious Value

Traditional Irish breakfasts are included in most every lodging reservation, be it small establishments or larger hotel brands.

Shoulder Season

Consider shoulder season. “It’s the smart season,” smiles Alison outlining the season which runs from November to March in Ireland typically has:

•    attractions opened

•    a temperate climate (i.e. no snow)

•    easy to get to

•    less crowded

Plus Canadians travel a lot to European capitals in the fall and winter so why not Dublin, why not Ireland?


More flights – a variety of air carriers offer year-round service which means clients can explore Old Europe where history is dialed back millennia.

Once you reach the major international gateway at Dublin Airport the Dublin city centre is an easy, short cab ride away.


Wild Atlantic Way – one of the world’s longest defined coastal touring routes (2,600 km) is Ireland’s rugged west coast. On the mind bending ride from Inishowen Peninsula in the north down to the picturesque town of Kinsale, County Cork, in the south, explore enchanting villages, historic monuments, and the wonders of nature.

Ireland’s Ancient East – Retrace 5,000 years of European history in a compact area.

Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route – Think Giant’s Causeway, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and everything in between in this epic 190 km ride between Belfast and Londonderry.

Vibrant Cities

Take your pick. There are the big mainstays like Dublin, Belfast and old timey hubs like Adare, Dingle, and Cobh plus tons more.

2017 Bookings

“We will be pulling out all the stops in 2017, to keep the momentum going and ensure that growth continues,” concludes Welch.

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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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