‘Biden bounce’ to deliver Irish tourism boost from North America in 2024

President Joe Biden got a rapturous welcome in Ballina as he explored his family roots. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Ralph Riegel

Ireland is poised for record numbers of North American holidaymakers in 2024 as tourism industry officials predicted a remarkable ‘Biden Bounce’ in the wake of the hugely successful US Presidential visit.

Some hotels have confirmed a 30pc-plus surge in queries from the US as well as Canada and Mexico in the wake of the extensive coverage of Joe Biden’s four-day visit to Ireland.

Airlines including Aer Lingus, United, American Airlines and Delta are also understood to be examining enhanced schedules for Ireland next year with new routes and greater flight frequency.

Fáilte Ireland chief executive Paul Kelly said there was significant positive momentum for Ireland in the core North American market in the wake of Mr Biden’s visit.

“There is no doubt that some of that (post-Presidential visit inquiries from North America) will convert to bookings and visits. But we also have a strong exchange between the US dollar and the euro now which is conducive to visits from the US.”

He said so-called heritage tourism, where people want to trace their family roots and which was front-and-centre of Mr Biden’s visit, should benefit places in Ireland beyond the normal tourist trails.

Extensive American TV coverage of Mr Biden’s visits to Belfast, Carlingford, Dundalk, Dublin, Knock and Ballina have been described as “a promotional and marketing godsend” for Ireland.

Mr Biden’s pride in his Irish-American heritage is also expected to tap into the vast tourism potential of the 32 million Americans who claim Irish ancestry.

Patrick Murphy, regional general manager of the G Hotel, Hardiman and House Galway, said US tourists were already returning to Ireland in their droves after the Covid-19 pandemic.

But he stressed that if the fruits of Mr Biden’s visit are to be fully delivered, Ireland must maintain maximum flight access from North America, particularly to Shannon Airport.

“The US market has always been a key segment for the Irish hospitality industry, in particular for the west of Ireland and thankfully the US guests have very much returned in their droves this year,” he said.

“I don’t think we can say that we will see an immediate lift in the coming months on the back of the President Biden visit, as lead time for booking is generally longer.

“But traffic to our various websites and bookings for the latter half of the year are certainly very strong.

“If better flight access into Shannon and Dublin can be maintained for the later months of the year, then we believe we will see the fruits of this momentous visit in what traditionally were seen as slower months.

“Our partners in the US and the guests themselves are telling us that they are looking for amazing experiences, which we provide in abundance in Ireland, and they are willing to travel outside the high-demand periods.

“On a personal note we can certainly say we got a lift in the G Hotel as we hosted a number of the delegates and entourage that accompanied President Biden’s visit to his homeland of Mayo.”

Trigon Hotels managing director Aaron Mansworth said they were “very excited” about the prospects for the 2024 tourism season in the wake of Mr Biden’s visit.

“It is a good news story not just for the tourism industry but for the Irish economy in general,” he said.

“The North American market wouldn’t be as big for us as it would be for say some hotels in Kerry or Dublin. But our Metropole Hotel in Cork traditionally handles a lot of American tourists who are basing themselves in Cork to visit Blarney Castle or the Jameson Whiskey Heritage Centre in Midleton.

“There certainly has been an increase in queries and that can only bode well for the future. After a difficult couple of years for the industry it is wonderful to be talking about growth, expansion and increasing numbers of North American tourists arriving on our shores.”

Manager of Dublin’s InterContinental Hotel, Nicky Logue, said

“It’s probably a little too early to see if President Biden’s visit has had an impact on US bookings yet, but we have seen an increase in website visits and interest from the US since his trip to Ireland.”