Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been undertaking a trade mission to the west coast of the United States to leverage tourism, trade and investment opportunities. On November 3, he took the time to support Tourism Ireland’s promotional efforts in San Francisco by meeting with leading tour operators and airlines, as well as meetings and incentive travel planners, who programme and sell Ireland for both leisure and business travel.
The Taoiseach also met with representatives of Lucasfilm, the company which produces Star Wars, to re-affirm Ireland’s interest in future collaboration. Tourism Ireland is in negotiation with Lucasfilm at present to finalise its upcoming promotional campaign around Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi , which will break in mid-December to coincide with the global launch of the new film.
The United States is one of the greatest contributors of visitors and tourism revenue to Ireland, and outbound travel from the US to Ireland has grown faster than to many of the country's competitor destinations, meaning that today, over one in ten American travellers to Europe now visits Ireland. After New York, California is now the largest source of American visitors for Ireland. And, with three direct flights from California to Dublin (Aer Lingus flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles and an Ethiopian Airlines service from LA), it’s never been easier for Californians to get to Ireland.
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Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s Head of North America, said, “Tourism Ireland has prioritised North America for 2017 as a market which offers a strong return on investment, in terms of holiday visitors and expenditure. A number of factors are working in our favour, including more airline seats than ever before, from 20 gateway cities across North America to the island of Ireland, including direct flights to Dublin from San Francisco and Los Angeles with Aer Lingus, and from Los Angeles with Ethiopian Airlines.
“We have seen excellent growth in North American visitor numbers again this year, with the latest CSO figures for January to September showing growth of 18.6% – an extra 259,100 North American visitors compared with the same nine-month period last year. Tourism Ireland is rolling out a busy programme of promotions aimed at boosting late season travel to the island of Ireland and at positioning us well for 2018.”