Tourism sector ‘speed dating’ to gain business

Members of the Kilkenny tourism industry were in Dublin last week attending Meitheal, Ireland’s largest tourism trade fair, in the RDS, Dublin. The event, now in its 37th year, provides Irish tourism product providers with the opportunity to meet with overseas tour operators and group organisers, with a view to negotiating business for the future.

Members of the Kilkenny tourism industry were in Dublin last week attending Meitheal, Ireland’s largest tourism trade fair, in the RDS, Dublin. The event, now in its 37th year, provides Irish tourism product providers with the opportunity to meet with overseas tour operators and group organisers, with a view to negotiating business for the future.

This year 310 key international buyers from over 20 countries were in attendance and over the two days almost 17,000 scheduled one-to-one business meetings took place in a format similar to “speed dating.”

Kilkenny was represented by nine businesses, including the Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel, Kilkenny Arts Festival, The Pembroke Hotel, Jerpoint Park, Mount Juliet, Kilkenny River Court Hotel, Lyrath Estate Hotel and Convention Centre, Kilkenny Hibernian Hotel and Griffin Hotel Group.

Speaking after the event, Fáilte Ireland’s head of operations for the South East, Gary Breen, said: “Meitheal is a unique opportunity to show the best of our tourism product here in Kilkenny to an international audience and to highlight what we can offer to make the Irish holiday experience a truly memorable one. Meitheal is a valuable opportunity to forge even stronger commercial relations between Irish tourism and the international travel trade.”

“Interest in visiting Ireland is growing, and our appeal remains strong as we can now offer better value for money than for many years,” he said.

“There is more potential out there than in previous years and, hopefully, through events such as Meitheal, we can tap into this and win our fair share of overseas business for Ireland.”

Fáilte Ireland also released new research indicating that tourism industry sentiment is growing steadily. Top-line results from the latest Fáilte Ireland Tourism Barometer, due to be published in the coming weeks, show that over half of tourism businesses (54%) said their performance was up this year with a further 21% saying that they were at least holding steady. This compares with corresponding figures of 8% and 9%, respectively, as recently as 2009.

Looking to the year ahead, three in five businesses (59%) expect an increase in their prospects during 2012 with a further one in five (22%) expecting to at least equal this year’s performance. The corresponding figures for 2009 were 7% and 10%.