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:

[column col=”1/3″]

Vagabond Winners

Best Adventure Experience – Vagabond Adventure Tours

[/column][column col=”1/3″]
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

[/column][column col=”1/3″]
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.”

A Ringing Endorsement at ITOA Limerick Workshop

sephotoMinister for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring visited the ITOA Workshop in the Limerick Strand today where he congratulated the ITOA members and tourism businesses present on their hard work and dedication in delivering the very best experiences to our overseas visitors.

He remarked on the enthusiasm of the tourism industry in promoting the Wild Atlantic Way – “The Wild Atlantic Way is a terrific opportunity to package and promote all of the wonderful areas and product along the Atlantic seaboard and it’s here to stay and will serve the industry well for years to come”.

Sue Uda, President of ITOA thanked Minister Ring for his support of the industry over the past 3 years “we greatly appreciate the support that you, Minister Varadkar and your Government colleagues have given the industry over the past few years.

The industry has played its part in delivering increasing visitor numbers, contributing valuable export earnings into the national economy and creating much needed jobs in areas and regions that haven’t attracted other industry.”


lsOver 250 tourism businesses are speed dating today in Limerick today, meeting all ITOA members to promote and sell their businesses for 2015.  And no doubt the Wild Atlantic Way will be high on the agenda for many of the tourism businesses along the western seaboard as they contract with ITOA members.

President Sue Uda said

“we are delighted to see so many businesses here again with us this year and there’s lots of enthusiasm in the room around the Wild Atlantic Way along which so many of the tourism businesses here today are located.  This has been very well received by our market based partners since its launch last year and we look forward to continuing to promote the experiences that this new product now presents. Of course there are lots of other businesses here from other part of the country who do business with ITOA members every year too.  We will be launching our 2013 Members Business Performance report later this week and its very positive news indeed with ITOA members delivering record visitor numbers to Ireland in 2013 – 467,000 of them who spent almost 400 million in the Irish economy. ITOA members are looking forward to yet another good year from the overseas markets in 2014 but 2015 is already on our minds as we contract with tourism businesses this week both here and in Dublin.”

Neil Pakey, Chief Executive of Shannon Airport will speak at the ITOA Workshop event later today sharing the good news of additional schedules into the airport this year and plans for the airports future.

Irish Welcome Tours – Wild About Atlantic Way

ITOA member Irish Welcome Tours is delighted to announce that the Wild Atlantic Way is featured on a selection of specifically designed car tours on their car touring website IWT welcomes the ‘WAW ‘ as a great permanent initiative for the Irish tourism industry and one which will have a lasting legacy for all areas on the route and the island as a whole.

2014 Budget delivers for tourism

Ministers Noonan and Varadkar delivered for the Tourism Industry yesterday with the announcement of the retention of the 9% VAT rate.  The industry breathed a sigh of relief at the announcement which was first up in the budget and rightly so.  This initiative was introduced in 2011 as part of the stimulus package announced by Minister Varadkar and clearly the Government have recognized that this initiative has worked in delivering 15,000 jobs, building our competitiveness in tourism thus increasing overseas visitor numbers (as seen in recent CSO figures) and has aided recovery at a greater pace than it might have otherwise.  ‘To have altered the VAT rate at this stage would have been detrimental’ says Gerry Nicholls ITOA President.  ‘The Minister has recognized that recovery is fragile and competitiveness is key and therefore taking away a vital component in both of these areas at a time that the industry can move to real growth simply wouldn’t make sense’.  ITOA also greatly welcomed the other initiatives introduced yesterday in abolishing the travel tax from April 01 next and the funding set aside for the development of the Wild Atlantic Way.   ‘Confidence is returning to our industry and the Gathering Ireland 2013 (a tourism industry led initiative) has also played a significant role in delivering for tourism and Ireland Inc, so let’s ensure that we maintain the momentum and deliver more jobs and visitors to Ireland in 2014 and beyond – a lot done but more to do!’ says Gerry Nicholls.

ITOA Welcomes New Trans-Atlantic Aer Lingus Schedules for 2014



Aer Lingus announced the long awaited news of their new routes to San Francisco and Toronto for 2014 today and increased frequency to Shannon airport from Boston (from January 2014) and New York (from March 30).

From March Aer Lingus will operate with five services per week being operated by Airbus A330 wide-body aircraft between Dublin and San Francisco.  A daily direct flight being operated on a Boeing 757 between Dublin and Toronto will operate during the summer season with up to four weekly services operating during the winter.

Increased frequency between Shannon to Boston and New York will be provided by two Boeing 757 aircraft to be based in Shannon.  This increases Aer Lingus’s Tran-Atlantic capacity by 24% in 2014.

ITOA President Gerry Nicholls welcomed the news saying ‘North America is a very important market for our members and our travel trade partners in the market.  We have all experienced the benefit of the new and increased Trans-Atlantic air capacity this year and there is no doubt that these new schedules will auger well for continued growth from North America in 2014.  As an island we are hugely dependant on direct access in order to grow tourism numbers in both leisure and business and there is no doubt that direct non-stop flights will put Ireland more firmly on the map for potential holiday and business tourists in 2014.  We are particularly pleased about the addition of new access from Canada, a market that has perhaps under performed in the past due to the lack of scheduled year round access – this presents wonderful new opportunities for us all in growing Canadian visitors to Ireland.

Abbey Tours Aquires Moloney & Kelly Tours

 Abbey Tours Moloney & Kelly Trave

ITOA member Abbey Tours is pleased to announce their recent acquisition of the Dublin based company ITOA member Moloney & Kelly Travel.

Founded in 1970, Moloney & Kelly Travel is one of Ireland’s longest established destination management companies, specialising in Incentive and Leisure Travel. The business will continue to operate from the current address and the Moloney & Kelly management team will remain with the company.

Commenting on the acquisition, Abbey Tours Chairman, Brian Mc Colgan stated ’we are delighted to acquire the business of Moloney & Kelly Travel, such a highly regarded company within our industry. This company has traded successfully for over 40 years and established an excellent reputation for the quality of their service.

A key part of Abbey Tours growth strategy is to further develop our US and Canadian markets, the acquisition of Moloney & Kelly Travel will undoubtedly help us achieve this objective. We look forward to fully utilising the combined strengths and experience of both companies in increasing our visitor numbers to Ireland’.

Moloney & Kelly Travel Chairman John Downey said he was delighted to join forces with Abbey Tours. John added, ‘we are very proud of what we have achieved at Moloney & Kelly Travel and we look forward to this new exciting phase of development. The obvious strengths of Abbey Tours, added to the considerable expertise of our own team will ensure Moloney & Kelly Travel remains a market leader within our sector of the business’.

Abbey Tours is Ireland’s largest destination company, handling over 100,000 visitors to Ireland annually. 80 people are employed at their City Gate office in Dublin’s city centre.

irish tourism industry

Good Start to 2013 Season – CSO Report


irish tourism industry

The CSO provided positive news for the Irish Tourism Industry this week with the release of the stats from March – May 2013 showing an increase of 8.1% on the same period for 2012.

The North American markets continues to perform strongly with an increase of 282,300 trips representing a 12.6% growth.

Mainland Europe was up 9.6% and Great Britain increased by 5.6% which is an encouraging signal from our largest source market particularly in light of its poorer performance in the past number of years.

Gerry Nicholls, President of ITOA remarked ‘these were very encouraging figures from our overseas markets that 2013 will be a good year for tourism.  ITOA members have had strong recover from the US and mainland European markets over the past two years and we are optimistic that this pattern of growth will continue through 2013.  There is no doubt that The Gathering 2013 has played an significant part in the recovery being experienced and additional trans-Atlantic air capacity this year has been a huge part of the growth from the USA’.