Ireland’s visitor attraction and experience operators met this week in County Clare for the annual AVEA (Association of Visitor Experiences and Attractions) conference to discuss the future of the sector.
Over 200 delegates from the island of Ireland attended the largest conference gathering in the six year history of AVEA conferences.
The conference theme for 2023 was 'World Class Experiences – Local Authenticity,' which focused on how tourism businesses must deliver memorable experiences to their visitors while remaining true to the spirit of Irish hospitality.
Over two days, delegates heard from tourism leaders Jenny de Saulles (director of sector development Fáilte Ireland), Alice Mansergh (CEO of Tourism Ireland), Eimear Callaghan (head of experience and industry development, Tourism Northern Ireland), and Eoghan O’Mara Walsh (CEO of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation.)
International speakers included the head of Hampton Court Palace Rachel Mackay and Rich Neville, who led the operations teams for ABBA Voyage and the BBC Earth Experience in London.
Meanwhile, Kelly Molson, MD of Rubber Cheese, reported on changing trends for booking experiences online, and John Harte from ATS Heritage revealed findings from AVEA research on how visitor attractions meet the requirements of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
"Over the next two days of our conference, we will be learning about best practices from award-winning international visitor experiences and attractions, learning how best to use AI tools to improve the business offering and learning about plans for future promotion from Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland and how the industry can best work co-operatively with those promotions," said Catherine Flanagan, CEO of AVEA.
"Post-covid is a new landscape for Irish tourism operators, while it has some new and additional challenges, it also lays out fresh ground for new opportunities, new ways to develop and do business and new ways to shine a light on Ireland for the international visitor market.”