Saturday 10 December 2016

Tourism enjoys timely boost in wake of VIPs

Fiona Ellis and Aideen Sheehan

Published 30/05/2011 | 05:00

THE recent state visits by Queen Elizabeth and US President Barack Obama have given tourism here a shot in the arm.

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Tourist hotspots have seen a welcome rise in footfall, and hotels and travel sites have seen an increase in the amount of inquiries and bookings.

Aebhric McGibney, director of policy and communications at Dublin Chamber of Commerce, estimated the global publicity for the visits could be worth as much as €150m in advertising terms for Ireland.

The Rock of Cashel in Co Tipperary has so far been the biggest beneficiary from the queen's visit, with an almost 50pc leap in visitor numbers.

Around 655 people had been visiting each day on the week before the regal visit, but that increased to more than 1,000 per day the week after.

Visitor numbers had been up 25pc on April last year following the announcement of the queen's itinerary, and, for the year so far, business was up 16pc.

"We're hearing a lot of Irish voices in there, families seem to be stopping off to have a look, which is very welcome," site manager Elaine Moriarty said.

The Book of Kells at Trinity College in Dublin is also enjoying a rise in popularity.

"It will take a little while for it all to percolate but certainly we've been incredibly busy since May 18. We have queues and we are a lot busier than this time last year," visitor services manager Anne-Marie Diffley said.

The visits have also given Ireland an image overhaul in the eyes of our nearest neighbours.

Hotels

So far this month, searches on the Hotels.com UK website have risen by 69pc for Dublin, 74pc for Cork, 191pc for Kildare and 80pc for Tipperary, compared with the same period last year.

Hotels.com's UK and Ireland market management director Seamus MacCormaic said: "There is no doubt that Ireland offers excellent value to visitors, and the high-profile visits have led to a boost in interest in the destination."

Mr Obama visited his ancestral homestead for just a few hours but the impact of the trip will remain long into the future.

Tourists are still flocking into Moneygall, Co Offaly, since he paid a visit.

Ollie Hayes's pub, where Mr Obama had a pint of Guinness, is seeing a brisk increase in trade, according to Mr Hayes.

"Lots of Americans are coming in and it's much busier than this time last year. I can't put a figure on it but it is much, much busier."

He said that the whole town was receiving more trade.

"Mr Obama has been here now, so many people are coming to the village and visiting different shops around and then coming into the pubs and having a cup of tea or a drink.

"There are a lot of people around now as I speak; a lot of Americans and a lot of Irish, too. It's great for business in the community."

He also said Guinness sales had risen, especially among women, since Michelle Obama had a small glass of the black stuff.

Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said the visits gave the country a unique advantage in an incredibly competitive marketplace.

"The historic visits have provided us with an unparalleled opportunity to drive home the message around the world that there has never been a better time to visit the island of Ireland," he said.

Irish Independent

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