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’.


ITOA Chief Executive Ruth Andrews met with the Japanese Prime Minister



Pictured L to R: An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, prime minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, ITOA’s Ruth Andrews and Niall Gibbons, Tourism Ireland

ITOA Chief Executive Ruth Andrews met with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, guest of An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, on his brief visit to Dublin yesterday following his attendance at the G8 Summit in Fermanagh.

During his visit to Government buildings Ruth joined Niall Gibbons,  Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland in greeting the Prime Minister along with other representatives from industry and state agencies in the export trade sectors.

This was the first ever visit of a serving Japanese Prime Minister to Ireland and Taoiseach Enda Kenny welcomed the Prime Minister and highlighted the trade opportunities between Ireland & Japan.


Ireland a G8 Great Place to Do Business


An Taoiseach Enda Kenny has given Ireland’s business tourism sector an extra push this week with the meeting of the G8 in Ireland by appearing in a promotional video outlining Ireland’s strengths as a meeting, conference and Incentive (MICE) destination.

With the worlds leaders gathered for their G8 meeting in Fermanagh, our own leader has taken the opportunity to remind the business community of the exceptional destination that Ireland is for business tourism.

It’s a shout out to the international business tourism community of the unrivalled communications, infrastructure and conference staging credentials that we have to offer.  And who better to lead the way in being an Ambassador for business than our own Leader.

You can watch the video below or on the Meet in Ireland website here.



Congratulations to Catherine Reilly – Brendan Vacations


Catherine Reilly, Managing Director Brendan Vacations Ireland  and Past President of ITOA has recently completed 10 years service as board member of the Irish Tourism Authority, Failte Ireland.  Catherine was appointed to the board of Failte Ireland in July 2003, shortly after the formation of the new Authority in May 2003 and has been one of its longest serving members.

She was invited to remain on the board for a second term in 2007 and has represented the interests of the Irish tourism industry with dedication and unstinting commitment over that decade.

Gerry Nicholls, President ITOA congratulated Catherine saying “there has been many chapters written on Irish Tourism over the past decade, not to talk of turbulent time and ITOA has been very well served by our colleague and friend Catherine in her role on the board of Failte Ireland during that time.  We know that Catherine will continue to be a strong voice and advocate for our sector and indeed the tourism industry in the future.”

ITOA members joined the President in congratulating Catherine on a job well done and wishing her well in her continued endeavors for Brendan Vacations Ireland and her ongoing commitment to Irish Tourism.


Meitheal Had Added Advantage (ico) This Year


ITOA member, advantage ico, worked with the Trade Engagement team in Failte Ireland to organise  the networking events for Meitheal at the CCD and The Guinness Storehouse.

Failte Ireland appointed advantage ico after a competitive tender process. Services provided to the Failte Ireland Meitheal team included event management, venue selection and liaison, event production, props, décor, collateral, actors and entertainment.

Both events were very well received with the CCD event featuring the introduction of the Wild Atlantic Way by way of an exhibition of relevant product over pre-dinner drinks, video after dinner and an Irish choir to finish.

The Gathering at The Storehouse took participants on a journey from where the word Meitheal came from via stunning Irish food to contemporary performances from up and coming Irish acts, Perfect Friction and Hermitage Green finishing with a Ceili Mor in the Arrol Suite.

Ronan Flood, Managing Director advantage ico said “ we were delighted to win the tender to manage these prestigious and important international trade events organised annually by Failte Ireland.  Creating memorable and exciting experiences for the evening entertainment events is critical to the overall success of the Meitheal Workshops”.