TWO of Canada's most popular travel writers are sampling Ireland's newest tourist attraction as guests of Tourism Ireland.
The tourism body invited husband and wife team Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil to travel the 2,750km Wild Atlantic Way from west Cork to Donegal so they would write about their experiences on their blog, 'The Planet D'.
So far, they say they have been blown away by the UNESCO heritage site on Skellig Michael, the ruins of the 12th-century monastic settlement, which is 1.6km off the south Kerry coast.
"It's the most interesting ruin I've ever seen," Debra told the Irish Independent. "As an experience I'd put it up there with Jordan's Petra or Peru's Machu Picchu, but it's even more interesting because of its remoteness and because there are not so many tourists there."
Known as 'Canada's adventure couple', Dave and Debra, who have been together for 23 years and married for 15, have been on the road non-stop for six years. Their award-winning blog at www.theplanetd.com is considered one of the top travel blogs in the world and reaches an audience of about 800,000.
Their website alone attracts 200,000 visitors each month with 400,000 on Google+. They have 80,000 followers on Twitter and 55,000 on Facebook.
Even though their trip to Ireland is being hosted by Tourism Ireland, Debra insists this does not compromise their objectivity. "We're writing for our own blog and it's very important that we are true to our audience. It's our job to remain objective and if we don't do that people are just not going to read it any more," she said.
They also post photographs and videoclips of their travels on social media and tweet about their experiences using hashtags #WildAtlanticWay and #PlanetDIreland, which Tourism Ireland is hoping will showcase the coastal route to a new audience.
Today they will visit the Dingle Peninsula before heading on for Clare and Galway. Their tour will finish in Donegal next week having passed through Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim.
Tourism Ireland's Canada manager, Jayne Shackleford says an almost 70pc increase in available airline seats between Ireland and Canada has presented new opportunities for Canadian holidaymakers.
"Dave and Debra's Planet D blog is hugely popular, so their visit is a fantastic opportunity to create a major impression on their online followers, as they explore the Wild Atlantic Way and share their experiences," she said.
"Blogs and social media are recognised as strong influencers for prospective holidaymakers and we regularly work with them in promoting the island of Ireland."