The number of visitors to Ireland from the GCC has increased by 15% compared to year-to-date visitor numbers in 2012, as per new figures released by Tourism Ireland. The number of visit visa applications in 2013 has also risen by eight percent, compared to 2012.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia in particular are priority markets for Tourism Ireland’s focus in the GCC. Riding on this growth, Tourism Ireland will promote new marketing initiatives that are helping grow visitor numbers from the region further, including The Gathering Ireland 2013 and Derry-Londonderry UK City of Culture, at the forthcoming Arabian Travel Market (ATM).
Increased flight connectivity into Ireland from UAE and initiatives such as the Short Stay Visa-Waiver Scheme are thought to be significant factors behind increase in visa applications. “Greater accessibility for Middle East residents plays a significant factor in increased visitor numbers, with 17 flights per week from the UAE now in operation,” said Thomas Redmond, Tourism Ireland’s representative in the GCC.
Redmond adds, “We expect actual number of visitors to Ireland to be even greater than the number shown by visa applications alone. The Gathering Ireland 2013 is a significant, year-long initiative that aims to boost our tourism overseas through a diverse roster of prestigious events. It also calls for anyone with Irish heritage, or simply a love of Ireland, to make 2013 the year they visit Ireland.”
With this key campaign, Tourism Ireland expects visitor numbers to grow by approximately five per cent