Tourism NI welcomed the Incoming Tour Operators Association (ITOA) in Northern Ireland this week. The meeting presented opportunities to network and reaffirm the value of overseas tourism to Northern Ireland and the important strategic relationship with ITOA. The well established partnership between Tourism NI and ITOA ensures that the tourism industry across Northern Ireland have opportunities to showcase experiences and products directly to Ireland based tour operators who package and promote to over 4,000 global travel trade partners and customers.
ITOA members delivered €600 millions of business and 704,500 visitors to the island of Ireland in 2019.
At the meeting Tourism NI’s Chief Executive, John McGrillen said:
“This is a very challenging time for the tourism industry and our relationship with ITOA offers local tourism providers a unique opportunity to tap into a global distribution network. International visitors are crucially important to our local economy and our partnership with ITOA will play a huge role in supporting our industry as it continues to recover and rebuild.” He added: “As international travel reopens there will be fierce competition from other destinations. Our partnership with ITOA will be an essential part of our sales effort to ensure Northern Ireland is kept front of mind and featured in itineraries for future years.”
Rob Rankin, President of ITOA said: “Inbound International travel and tourism bore the greatest impact of the pandemic. However ITOA members continued to work hard promoting the island of Ireland with our thousands of market partners and contracting with NI industry to be ready for meaningful recovery in 2022. Right now, ITOA members pipeline of business for 2022 is expected to be 60% of 2019 which means the return of 420,000 high value holiday-makers and business tourism delivering €360 Million to the wider tourism economy. “Tourism Northern Ireland have supported ITOA members by facilitating ongoing engagement with the industry, providing real-time updates on Covid restrictions and constantly providing creative and imaginative Embrace the Giant Spirit marketing material to ensure that Northern Ireland stayed top of mind through our distribution channel.”
ITOA council members made a visit to Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge, before travelling to Belfast for a dinner hosted by Tourism NI board members.