Travel Trade Gathering at Meitheal Workshop 2013

300 International Travel Trade, including ITOA members attended this year’s Meitheal Workshop in Dublin on Tuesday 23rd April and Wednesday 24th April 2013.

This annual event is one of Ireland’s most important sales and networking event, with 300 international travel trade buyers attending to contract tourism product for 2014 and beyond.

Many of the overseas buyers partner with ITOA members who manage and handle trade partners Ireland programmes.

While The Gathering 2013 is the theme of the workshop this year, Failte Ireland took the opportunity to launch the ‘Wild Atlantic Way a coastal touring route under development between Kinsale in the south to the Inishowen Peninsula in the Northwest.

The project will be completed in early 2014 and provides a dedicated touring route 2,500Km long hugging the Altantic seaboard of Ireland’s rugged and stunningly beautiful.

Watch the video below for a flavour of the new route. ITOA members will be happy to provide further information on how best to experience the Wild Atlantic Way now and from 2014.



Vagabond Tours in National Geographic Traveler’s ’50 Tours of a Lifetime 2013′


ITOA member Vagabond Tours are delighted and thrilled at the announcement that their 8 day ‘Wild Irish Rover’ tour has been chosen as one of their top 50 tours of a lifetime by National Geographic Traveler Magazine .

Norie Quintos, executive editor of the magazine wrote, “This year marks the 125th anniversary of the National Geographic Society. The tours we selected capture that spirit of exploration, they push the boundaries of mainstream tourism, whether taking travelers to the far corners of the globe, or helping them dive deep into the culture of familiar destinations.”

Rob Rankin, Managing Director of Vagabond Tours said “This is a huge honour for us and we would like to say a huge thanks to everyone who has contributed to our success over the years: Our customers, our team, our suppliers and also friends of Vagabond who have all made a massive input. And not to mention National Geographic Traveler for considering us. We feel like we have won an Oscar…”

Vagabond are the first Irish company* to be chosen as one of the ’50 tours of a lifetime’; a wonderful achievement for the company and for Ireland.

Collaboration – The Key to Growing Business Tourism


Pictured at the Business Tourism Industry Briefing in the Aviva Stadium are Fiona O’Sullivan, Custom Ireland, Shaun Quinn, Failte Ireland and Kersten Pace, Westin Hotel.

A strong turnout of ITOA members active in Business Tourism attended the Business Tourism Industry Briefing in the Aviva Stadium.   Ireland is aiming to build on its position as a major destination in the incentive travel sector, where companies reward employees with trips abroad, and this will be a central focus for Fáilte Ireland’s Business Tourism Unit this year.

As it is felt that there is great potential for growth in the incentives space, Fáilte Ireland today announced details of a new top-level Incentive Innovation Group to focus on winning more incentive based business to Ireland.

Keith McCormack of Fáilte Ireland’s Business Tourism Unit, stressed that the incentive sector is an area of strategic importance and has the potential to generate significant revenue for the Irish economy.   The Incentive Innovation Group, with members of the industry on board, will now identify which countries present the biggest opportunities and what buyers we need to impress to get to those markets. Over the coming months the focus will be on looking at what we have, comparing it to our competitors and developing strategies unique to each market.

ITOA President Gerry Nicholls welcomed the announcement of the Incentive Innovation Group – “ITOA is delighted to see the implementation of this group and look forward to playing an active role with four ITOA member companies participating including Aspects of Ireland, A Touch of Ireland, Custom Ireland and Wallace Travel Group.  The combined experience and expertise that our members participating will bring, in collaborating with our industry colleagues on this group will we are sure deliver much needed insights and innovative thinking to revitalize the Incentive and Corporate Meeting offering that Ireland uniquely offers.”

In 2012 ITOA members handled almost 60,000 overseas business tourism visitors who spend €73 million in Ireland.


ITOA member Irish Welcome Tours launches Gourmet food tour with Clodagh McKenna


Liz Aungier and Clodagh Mckenna

ITOA member Irish Welcome Tours announced the launch of their new gourmet food tour that has been created with celebrity chef and food writer Clodagh McKenna on their website.

Food Tourism in Ireland is booming and people are becoming more aware and interested in Ireland’s food tourism product. Liz Aungier, reservations manager Irish Welcome tours identified a gap in the market for food tours and approached Clodagh with the idea who was immediately keen to get on board to work on the project.

The tour will be a self-guided tour based on Clodagh’s Irish Food Trails TV series, stopping at the towns and markets she visited and tasting the local produce. The series has been aired widely in the USA and has generated a lot of interest in Irish Food. With another series due to start filming in September 2013 (and airing in 2014) this is set to grow even more.

Clodagh is one of Ireland’s best known chefs and cookbook authors. She trained in Ireland, France, America and Italy before returning to Ireland. She now runs Clodagh’s Kitchen, Bakery and Food Hall in Dublin’s famous Arnott’s Department Store and has another 120 seater restaurant due to open in Blackrock, County Dublin in April this year. Clodagh said “I’m thrilled to have teamed up with and my good friend Liz Aungier to create a culinary journey throughout the country that will take you to many of the wonderful places visited in the series.”

For more information, see

ITOA Member Abbey Tours Receives Accolade at Deloitte Best Managed Companies Awards

abbey-tours ITOA Member Abbey Tours receives gold standard accolade at Deloitte Best Managed Companies Awards !  The company was named as one of Ireland’s ‘Best Managed’ companies for the fourth year in a row recently.  The company was recognised at a gala awards dinner in the Burlington Hotel in Dublin on 1 March 2013.

The Deloitte Best Managed Companies Awards Programme, in association with Irish Life Corporate Business, recognises indigenous Irish companies across the island of Ireland which are operating at the highest levels of business performance. Companies that have been recognised as a Best Managed Companyfor four years running are awarded with a special ‘gold standard’ accolade. In total 14 companies were designated with the gold standard this year.

Commenting on the award, Brian McColgan, Chairman, Abbey Tours said: ”We are delighted and proud to receive this recognition. The Deloitte Best Managed Company award is a significant recognition of Abbey Tours achievements in continuing to grow our business in a difficult trading environment.

ITIC Interview Ruth Andrews About ITOA Annual Survey [Video]

The Incoming Tour Operators Association of Ireland (ITOA) has released the results of their annual survey on the nature, scale and value of the inbound tour operators to Irish tourism.

This is the 8th consecutive year in which this survey has been conducted so the ITOA members have experienced many highs and lows over the period.  CLICK HERE to download the survey.

ITIC spoke to ITOA Chief Executive Ruth Andrews to hear what she had to say about the results.

Click on the arrow below to watch the video

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”][/youtube]

Ireland is back on the international holiday radar, say Irish Tour Operators

Green shoots for Ireland as inbound tourism businesses experience 19 per cent increase

The Incoming Tour Operators Association (ITOA) has released the results of their annual survey on the nature, scale and value of inbound tour operators to Irish tourism.

The report, released today, shows that the total gross turnover for the 30 inbound tour operators in 2012 was €217 million, representing a significant increase of 19 % over the 2011 figure of €183 million.

The average length of stay for tour groups in 2012 is estimated at 7.1 nights, with individual or other business averaging 4.7 nights. On this basis, the total number of bednights generated by incoming tour operators is estimated to have been almost 2.0 million bednights in 2012.

Group bednights accounted for almost three-quarters of the total (over 1.4 million).

Group and coach tours accounted for 50% of the turnover, and individual travel accounted for 25% of turnover. Special one-off events (a new category for 2012) accounted for 9% of the business with incentives and conferences accounting for most of the balance.

It is estimated that, excluding carrier receipts, tourists handled by ITOA members spent €346.0 million in Ireland in 2012.

€273.1 million came from leisure tourists and €72.9 million from business tourists.

Ruth Andrews, CEO of the ITOA, was speaking at the ITOA Tourism Business Workshop in Limerick on Tuesday. A further workshop will be held at Fitzpatrick’s Hotel, Dublin, at which the report will be published.

Ruth Andrews said: ‘These figures show us that Ireland is firmly back on the international holiday radar.

This level of growth means that people are still buying packaged holidays to Ireland. Holiday visitors stay longer, spend more, and travel more throughout the country.’

The Irish packaged tourism product is vitally important in selling the overall Ireland ‘experience’.  Ireland experts deliver real value for money in tailor-made programmes,  and this is clearly attractive to our overseas visitors.

This week also marks the official start of the tourism season in Ireland with St Patrick’s Day.

No other country has their national saint’s day celebrated as a big party all over the world,’ says Ruth Andrews. ‘Ireland is in a unique position to sell itself as a holiday destination internationally.

Download a full copy of the report here [opens as a PDF in Adobe Reader]

ITOA members

Photos from ITOA 2013 Workshop

The ITOA workshops took place on March 12, 2013 in Limerick, Strand Hotel and March 14, 2013 in Fitzpatricks Castle Hotel.

Read more about what the ITOA workshops for the travel trade entail.

Read what happened at the Limerick workshop and the Dublin workshop.

Here are some photos from the ITOA Dublin workshop.


[nggallery id=3]

ITOA Workshop in Dublin 14th March 2013

Attendees at the ITOA Dublin workshop 14th March 2013

The ITOA workshop Dublin got off the a busy start this morning with over 240 Irish tourism industry businesses arriving at Fitzpatricks Castle Hotel.

Gerry Nicholls, President launched the 2012 Members Business Report at the opening of the morning session.

A very strong business performance in 2012 by ITOA members was very positively received by the tourism industry participants.  2012 saw more growth and a strong recovery with ITOA handling 419,000 visitors to Ireland who stayed on average 7 days and spend €346 million in the Irish economy while here, providing over 2 million bednights to the accommodation sector.

Gerry Nicholls President of ITOA  said “This is very good news not only for our members but for the tourism industry throughout Ireland.  Our members spend over €156million with Irish Tourism businesses in 2012 and the benefit of ITOA members collective increase in business on 2011 up 19% overall will be felt by many tourism businesses nationally as our regional distribution of business is up to 60%.

The benefit of the reduced VAT rate introduced by Minister Varadakar, one of the very positive initiative he has introduced in office over the last two years has also been key to recovery and growing and maintaining competitiveness, with ITOA members also increasing full time jobs in their businesses by 9% in 2012.

Overall we have had very strong recovery in the past two years and I am sure that with the Gathering Ireland 2013 we will continue to see growth in the coming year”.

ITOA 2012 Business Report is available here.

You can see more photos from the Dublin workshop here.




2013 ITOA Workshops in Full Swing

ITOA workshop in Limerick 12th March 2013

ITOA Workshops kicked off today in Limerick. There are over 220 tourism industry businesses attending to sell their products to all ITOA members who will be there to commence contracting for the 2014 season.

ITOA Workshops are key sales events in the tourism promotional calendar.  Participants at the Limerick workshops come as far away as Donegal and Cork to attend the ‘Speed Dating’ format workshop.  Many of the participants attend annually as they work with ITOA members every year as well as new tourism businesses and networks who are keen to work with ITOA members who package and sell the Irish Tourism product and sell to their partners in the travel trade internationally.

President Gerry Nicholls said ‘ We are delighted to have so many of our partners in Irish tourism join us as these key industry networking events.

ITOA had a very strong year again in 2012 with business well up on 2011.  Later this week we will be launching our Members 2012 Business Report which will show the importance of the Travel trade business in Ireland from all of the overseas markets.’

The ITOA Dublin Workshop will take place on Thursday in Fitzpatricks Castle Hotel where another large attendance from the Irish Tourism industry will participate.