By Bernd Debusmann Jr
According to Irish government statistics, about 75,000 Middle Eastern visitors travelled to Ireland in 2019, approximately 65 percent of which were drawn from the GCC
Special travel deals will be unveiled on and around Saint Patrick’s Day in March in a bid to woo more Middle East travellers to the ‘Emerald Isle’, according to Siobhan McManamy, the director of markets for Tourism Ireland.
In an interview with Arabian Business, McManamy said that the move follows the “incredible” exposure that Ireland received after Dubai’s Burj Khalifa ‘went green’ for Saint Patrick’s Day in 2019.
“That was incredible,” she said. “We have a new campaign this year called ‘green is the new black’, based on Black Friday. We’ll be offering really great deals around Saint Patrick’s week.”
“We’ve got some really good people from the tourism sector [in the UAE] that will be doing special deals,” she added.
According to Irish government statistics, about 75,000 Middle Eastern visitors travelled to Ireland in 2019, approximately 65 percent of which were drawn from the GCC.
The number of UAE nationals in particular has spiked following the introduction of visas on arrival, McManamy said.
“We also suspect that they are being undercounted. Visa-free has made such a difference,” she added. “It has allowed people to make last-minute decisions to come to Ireland. We have so much direct access, from both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, that is allows people to come at quite short notice.”
In the future, McManamy said that GCC visitors form an important part of a wider Irish strategy to boost the number of tourists from 11.2 million a year currently to 12 million by 2025.
“We want to change what the visitors do, and we really want people to travel the length and breadth of the country and to come off-season,” she said. “For that kind of growth we need people to come in the off-peak season, and that’s where the GCC becomes so important.
“They [GCC tourists] don’t necessarily want to travel in our peak season. They are happy to travel throughout the year,” McManamy added. “In terms of season extension, the GCC becomes very important. Also, in terms of revenue.”