SAYONI BHADURI – Mumbai
With 17,000 – 18,000 visitors from India, from a total of seven million tourists to Ireland, the assumption would be Tourism Ireland would be happy with the progress. Jim Paul, director of developing markets, Tourism Ireland shows a grim picture, “ While we are happy with the development of India as a source market, We have also lost business, where it was nine million tourists in 2010 it dropped to seven million in 2011,” he said. The majority of the drop was due to the drop in inbound from mature markets of UK and the European nations. Tourism Ireland’s key aim currently is to recover the lost business and all short term finances is going into building back these mature markets.
On Ireland’s image in India, Paul says that in eight years there has been a massive change in the image of Ireland. “We have the Shamrock Agents Programme where more and more Indian agents are participating. There is also a large number of agents who are offering Ireland in their product offering,” said Beena Menon of Tourism Ireland. Emirates now flying into Dublin connectivity from India to Ireland has improved manifold, as many as 10 cities in India are now connected to to Ireland. “We will continue our associations with our Indian agents and operators, working on joint tourism marketing with some of the bigger players,” Paul assured.
Ireland’s plan for Olympics is that careful treading, “We are wary of the Olympic frenzy, it can be either good or bad for us,” Paul said. Rates are already very high, so officials are hopeful to lure in travellers deterred to stay in London. Or they might not choose not visit the British Isles altogether, Tourism Ireland fears.