Sunday 21 January 2018

Tourism 'bonanza' as 'Game of Thrones' and 'Star Wars' drive people to Ireland

The Dark Hedges near Armoy, Co Antrim, a location made famous by Game of Thrones. Photo: Northern Ireland Tourist Board/PA Wire
The Dark Hedges near Armoy, Co Antrim, a location made famous by Game of Thrones. Photo: Northern Ireland Tourist Board/PA Wire
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

Films and TV programmes filmed in Ireland, such as 'Game of Thrones' and 'Star Wars', are driving international market diversification for the island of Ireland, according to Tourism Ireland chief Niall Gibbons.

Speaking to the Irish Independent during a week-long sales mission to the UAE and India, Mr Gibbons said the all island body is targeting increased growth in the Gulf states where tourism to Ireland - boosted by direct flights operated by Etihad and Emirates airlines - has increased by almost a third in recent years.

"It's soft power, but TV programmes are a huge bonanza for Ireland," said Mr Gibbons.

A delegation of 12 tourism operators from the island of Ireland will meet with more than 350 travel agents and tour operators in the key cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai as well of Mumbai and New Delhi.

The sales mission comes as Tánaiste and Business, Enterprise and Innovation Minister Frances Fitzgerald leads a joint Enterprise Ireland/IDA Ireland trade and investment mission to Singapore and Japan.

The aim is to position Ireland as a post-Brexit solution for Asian companies. The Tánaiste will have bilateral meetings with Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang.

Ms Fitzgerald said that following the UK's decision to leave the EU, she is working closely with the agencies in her department that have intensified their efforts on increasing the export market penetration and diversification of Irish companies into alternative markets.

"Trade missions are vital in helping us expand into new and emerging markets across the world," said Ms Fitzgerald ahead of her visit.

Irish Independent

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