20 March 2017
By Bryan Smyth
Cork based Minister of State for European Affairs, Dara Murphy TD, has been visiting Spain, as part of a ‘Promote Ireland’ programme around St Patrick’s Day. The minister’s busy schedule included a breakfast meeting with leading Spanish tour operators, organised by Tourism Ireland.
Spain is an important market for tourism to the island of Ireland (the fifth most important market in terms of visitor numbers; and the sixth most important in terms of revenue). Travel by Spaniards to Ireland has grown significantly over the past 16 years – going from just 90,000 Spanish visitors in 2000 to a record 380,000 visitors in 2016. Tourism Ireland is determined to ensure that growth continues and is undertaking a busy programme of promotions right throughout 2017.
On St Patrick’s Day, numerous iconic buildings and historic monuments around Spain joined Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening initiative – including the Cibeles Fountain (where the fans of Real Madrid celebrate their triumphs in La Liga or the Champions League), the Tower of Hercules in Galicia (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the Magic Fountains of Montjuïc. Tourism Ireland also hosted a special St Patrick’s Day concert in conjunction with Spotify Spain.
Joanne Murphy, Tourism Ireland’s Manager Spain, said: “We are delighted that Minister Murphy was with us in Spain for the important St Patrick’s period, to meet some of leading Spanish tour operators and to help us deliver the message about the many great reasons to visit the island of Ireland this year. People everywhere instantly identify St Patrick’s Day with Ireland and that heightened profile allows us to put the Ireland holiday experience in the spotlight at this time of year.”
Tourism Ireland is targeting growth of +4% in Spanish visitors to Ireland this year. Factors working in our favour include strong air connectivity, with a significant increase in the number of direct flights to Ireland over the past few years; and interest in visiting Ireland remains high among Spanish travellers, with Spaniards consistently ranking Ireland in their ‘top ten’ destinations to visit. Also, more than 20% of all Spanish visitors to Ireland arrive in the off-season or Q4 – a real opportunity to win business at a time when there is capacity here in accommodation and other tourism facilities.