Joseph Byrne discusses the continuing growth in Irish tourism with
contributing editor Harvey Chipkin.
TW: Is Ireland continuing the rapid growth in tourism it has
enjoyed in recent years?
Byrne: Since 1993, U.S. tourism to Ireland has doubled. We have
been the fastest-growing European destination for U.S. visitors
each year since then. Our market share has grown from less than 5%
TW: Are you doing anything new to educate the trade?
Byrne: For one thing, we have expanded our educational program
dramatically. Five years ago, our major promotional series visited
10 cities; this February we will have workshops in 50 cities and
with an increasing number of partners. Our goal is to reach 6,000
agents in those 50 cities. At those seminars we are introducing a
major initiative--the establishment of an Irish expert program.
TW: How has access to the country improved?
Byrne: Aer Lingus, in particular, has [increased] the number of
gateways and capacity in just two and a half years--from 650,000
seats to 950,000 seats. And they are committed to opening up other
cities. Next June, Continental will begin to fly year-round to
Ireland with twice-daily flights from Newark--one to Dublin, one to
TW: What are your goals?
Byrne: While tourism to Ireland has grown significantly to all
parts of the country, it has grown at a proportionately greater
rate in the Dublin area. One of our thrusts will be to spread
tourism to other parts of the country with niche attractions like
golf, walking, cycling, equestrian holidays, incentives and
meetings. We will have increased promotional activity to make our
travel trade partners more aware of all this.