What we delivered in 2022

ITOA Membership 2022 Performance Survey Report – ITOA has just released the results of our Annual Membership Performance survey. International Tourism rebounded strongly with ITOA members delivering a stellar performance in a year that was not without its challenges, not least due to supply chain capacity issues and unexpected levels of inflation in energy costs.


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.


ITOA 2022 Budget Submission calls for continued support for Inbound Tourism vitally needed to assist business transition from Survival to Recovery in Q2 next year…..


Dromoland Castle provided the ideal venue for members to gather for a weekend of meetings, activity and relaxation, and experience the first-class service that the Castle delivers effortlessly to ITOA members clients.

This weekend saw outgoing ITOA President Darren Byrne hand over the reins to Rob Rankin, MD of Vagabond Tours.  “I am delighted to be passing the chain of office to Rob having served the association for the last two years.  It’s been a great honour to serve the association and one that I have enjoyed representing the members who deliver so much for Irish Tourism.”

The afternoons activities enjoyed by members on and around the estate kicked off with a tree planting ceremony.  As part of the ITOA Responsible Tourism initiative 40 mature oak trees were donated, along with site clearance costs by ITOA members as part of their carbon off-setting for the weekend.  President Rob Rankin said  “we are delighted to be making this contribution to the estate.  As well as the carbon off-set it also contributes to the Estates plan to replace trees that have been lost over the past years due to storm damage.  According to Dorothy Madden, head gardener in Dromoland, oak trees take 300 years to grow, 300 years to live and 300 years to die, so it’s nice to know that our contribution to the environment will be enjoyed for generations to come.” Dromolands extensive parklands were explored by ITOA members enjoying guided history and garden walks, falconry and golf lessons.  The group enjoyed a gala dinner in the Castle on Saturday night and were delighted to be joined my tourism business proprietors from Co.’s Clare and Limerick.  “We are always very grateful to have the three CEO’s of Irelands Tourism agencies join us, Niall Gibbons, Tourism Ireland, Paul Kelly, Failte Ireland and John McGrillen from Tourism Northern Ireland with whom the association and its members work very closely to market and sell Ireland internationally.  And Paul Carty MD of the Guinness Storehouse provided us with a terrific presentation at our meeting giving great insights into the Visitor Attractions sector with whom our members do so much business with nationally”.

Mark Lynch, MD of Dromoland Castle welcomed ITOA and its members.  “Here at Dromoland we greatly value ITOA members business.  We have a very long-established relationship with so many of the members and we were delighted to be the hosts for this year’s event.  Its always a great opportunity to both thank members and acknowledge them for their business and the work they do in promoting us and Co. Clare overseas – having them with us is akin to welcoming back old and good friends and having their contribution to the regeneration of the estates forestry affirms our relationship for many years to come.”



London, 4 July 2019 – A three-day adventure offered by Shamrocker Adventures, specialist in authentic Irish tours, has been ranked number one in the ‘Multi-Day Tours – World’ category of the 2019 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice® Awards for Experiences. These awards highlight the world’s top bookable experiences on TripAdvisor, by category and country, based on the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings by travellers worldwide.

The three-day Southern Rocker Tour travels from Dublin to Killarney and on to Galway, providing visitors short on time with the ultimate Irish fix. With a local Irish guide at the helm and all transport around the Emerald Isle included, travellers can marvel at the Cliffs of Moher, explore the eerie moon-like landscape of the Burren, visit the wild coast of the Dingle Peninsula, spend the night in the party town of Killarney and join a traditional music session in County Clare, home of Irish music. Priced from £209 per person, the tour includes two nights’ accommodation, all transport and daily breakfast.

Graeme Ward, Managing Director of Radical Travel said of the accolade: “We are absolutely delighted that our 3 Day Tour of Southern Ireland from Dublin has been ranked as number one in the Multi-Day Tours – World category.  It’s a fantastic achievement and a testament to the hard work and passion our Shamrocker team put into every tour. We feel on top of the world!”

“In just the last year, we’ve doubled the number of bookable tours, attractions and experiences available on TripAdvisor.  The breadth of winners – like a Costa Rican waterfall rappelling experience, a Balinese jungle swing, skip-the-line Vatican access, and a tour of Paris by vintage sidecar – reflect the incredible selection this growth affords travellers,” said Laurel Greatrix, TripAdvisor spokesperson.

“With more than 200,000 experiences on our sites, these winners are in an extremely competitive field and represent the best-of-the-best, according to travellers themselves.”

To find out more about Shamrocker Adventures’ explorations of Ireland please visit www.shamrockeradventures.com

Ruth Andrews, ITOA Chief Executive, appointed as new Chairperson of ITIC – Irish Tourism Industry Confederation

Ruth Andrews accepted the position of Chairperson at the ITIC 2019 AGM, taking over the role from out-going Chairman Maurice Pratt.  Having served on the board of ITIC for four years, and as Vice-Chair for the past two years, she acknowledged Maurice’s commitment and work over the past two years, representing the Tourism Industry and delivering the Industries 2025 Strategy for Tourism.

‘I am very honoured to accept this position and look forward to continuing the great work that Maurice, the board and executive have done in developing a road map for the Irish tourism industry as provided by the 2025 Strategy.  The industry has flourished and experienced unprecedented growth particularly in the past three years and we must stay focused on ensuring the continued success and growth of this important indigenous export industry.  Through our success we have and continue to deliver the most jobs of any other sector with 1 in every 10 jobs being in tourism nationally.  However there is no time for complacency and we must ensure that the Government continues to deliver policies that enable the industry to prosper’.

She thanked Cormac O’Connell, daa for accepting the position of Vice-Chairman and welcome new members of the board including Darren Byrne, ITOA, Con Quill, Irish Caravan & Camping Council, Nick Mottram, Irish Ferries, Michael Lennon, IHF, joined by existing board members Dara McMahon, Aer Lingus and Adrian Cummins, Restaurants Association of Ireland.

Vagabond Tours – Best Ireland’s Ancient East Tourism Experience

ITOA Members – Winners at the Irish Tourism Industry Awards 2019

ITOA members were again strong contenders and recipients at this year’s Irish Tourism Industry Awards.  Winners in three of the 15 categories were;

Vagabond Tours – Best Ireland’s Ancient East Tourism Experience – Under 25,000 Visitors

Odyssey International DMC – Best Meet In Ireland Business Tourism Innovation

Vagabond Tours – Best Environmental Tourism Innovation

Competition was strong on all three categories.  Odyssey International DMC’s managing director Kevin Shannon said;

‘this award is for an incentive programme that we managed last August for 2,700 participants.  Many said this couldn’t be done in Ireland but I am delighted to say that it was hugely successful with a 99% satisfaction rating from the clients.  This award is a real endorsement of our team in Odyssey International DMC and Ireland’s ability to create world class incentive programmes.’

In accepting both awards on the evening and as winners at the last two year’s events, Vagabond Tours, Rob Rankin said;

‘we were thrilled to receive the first award this evening for the IAE best experience but to also win Best Environmental Tourism Innovation is very special.  The entire team in Vagabond are very committed to environmental sustainability and we have worked really hard over the past couple of years to ensure that we and our suppliers work together to play our part in respecting Ireland’s green, clean environment and ensuring that we protect it for our visitors to enjoy for years to come, mindful also that we respect the locals and their ability to live in harmony with holiday makers visiting their communities’.

Other ITOA member finalists included:

Abbey Conference & Events

EI Travel Group

Moloney & Kelly Travel


ITOA Members Get Down to Business in Northern Ireland

The Incoming Tour Operators Association (ITOA) of Ireland, in partnership with Tourism NI, hosted its first ever business-to-business workshop to be held in Northern Ireland at the Titanic Hotel Belfast on November 13th. The event was part of the Associations plans to mark the 40th Year of the Association.

The Belfast workshop saw over 750 appointments take place in one afternoon between 30 ITOA member companies and 95 delegates from 80 companies representing the Northern Ireland tourism industry.

Speaking about the event, Darren Byrne, President of the ITOA said:

“As part of a series of events to mark our 40th anniversary, we were delighted to bring an ITOA workshop to Northern Ireland for the first time thanks to a successful partnership with Tourism NI.“

“These highly successful promotional events provide tourism businesses seeking to increase overseas visitors, leisure or business tourists with the opportunity to meet Ireland’s largest and long-established Tour Operators, Handling Agents and Destination Management Companies at one event, in one afternoon.”

“To see such a high turnout for our first ever Northern Ireland workshop sends out a clear message as to the important contribution of the organisation in facilitating the promotion of tourism in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in overseas markets.”

Following a packed schedule of networking appointments at the Titanic Hotel delegates enjoyed a gala dinner at the Crumlin Road Gaol this evening including a showcase of local food and entertainment.

Commenting on the event, Naomi Waite, Tourism NI Director of Marketing said:

“Networking opportunities such as the ITOA workshop offer the Northern Ireland tourism industry a unique opportunity to tap into a global distribution network by dealing directly with those who package and promote tourism products across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to the overseas market.”

“In 2017 we welcomed record visitor numbers of nearly five million people, who contributed an unprecedented £926m in visitor spend. While we are enjoying a lot of success in Northern Ireland, we are ambitious to grow and develop tourism even further, and to do this we must look towards international markets.”

Watch more about the event here


D Cronin ITOA Presents

Derry Cronin Vice-President ITOA presents the Best Intl. Access Award to Shannon Airport Neil Pakey, with Minister Donohoe.

The in augural Irish Tourism Industry Awards took place on Friday April 24th last.
The event was a terrific success with well over 500 industry professionals attending the glittering Awards Ceremony on Friday night last in the Double Tree By Hilton. An ITIC initiative, the awards were supported in no short measure by ITOA as sponsors and Eamonn McKeon, CX of ITIC acknowledging that the Awards were a hobby horse of Brian McColgan, Chairman of Abbey Tours who advocated its inception through an Industry Steering Group. The organizing committee who worked for many months on creating the awards and ensuring the initiative was such a success in its first year included our own Chief Executive, Ruth Andrews along with industry colleagues, Paul Gallagher (ITIC Incoming Chairperson and IHF), Margaret O’Reilly & Sinead Grace Tourism Ireland, Alex Connolly & Louise Tolerton, Failte Ireland, Aileesh Carew, Irish Design 2015 and Eamonn and Arlene from ITIC. Event Organizers was our own member Advantageico, Ronan and the team who really ensured that it was an inaugural event to remember. But the night belonged to the winners and we are delighted to celebrate the success of ITOA members as follows:

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Vagabond Winners

Best Adventure Experience – Vagabond Adventure Tours

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Best Business Tourism Innovation – Advantage ico Group & Kerry Convention Bureau – Adventure Travel World Summit 2014

Best Business Tourism Innovation – Advantage ico Group & Kerry Convention Bureau – Adventure Travel World Summit 2014

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Best International Marketing Initiative - CIE Tours International

Best International Marketing Initiative – CIE Tours International


And ITOA members were in no short supply when it came to the list of finalists per category too – Abbey Tours, The Travel Corporation – Brendan Vacations, CIE Tours, Odyssey International and MCI Dublin.

Sue Uda President said “It was a terrific occasion to celebrate tourism and the businesses and people who work so hard to deliver the very best to our visitors. We are very proud of our industry and the timing of the Awards could not have been better. I am particularly proud however that our sector was so well represented and participated so enthusiastically in these National Awards. Congratulations to all of the winners, finalists and entrants and we are looking forward to the 2017 Awards already!”


IMG_3147ITOA Workshops 2015 got off to a busy and productive start yesterday in Limerick. Just over 220 industry from the length and breadth of the Wild Atlantic Way and beyond attended to meet with all ITOA members. Sue Uda President of ITOA said “we were delighted that so many tourism businesses took the time to come and sell to ITOA members. We were particularly pleased to meet with some new and very interesting businesses, as well as some established businesses that are being innovative and providing new business opportunities.” Sharing the 2014 ITOA Members Business Performance highlights , Sue said that 2014 had been yet another good year for ITOA members with visitor numbers and spend with Irish tourism businesses having continued to grow. What was particularly interest is the marketing/sales activity of ITOA members collectively in 2014 which had increased by just over €1 Million in 2014. “ This investment of just over €8 million is equivalent to 20% of Irelands total marketing investment in 2014 which demonstrates the significant contribution ITOA members make in selling and delivering promotable overseas visitors.”