A group of influential American tour operators visited Mayo recently. They followed an action-packed itinerary, which also took in Galway, Sligo, Donegal, Belfast, and Dublin. These tour operators are responsible for making the travel arrangements for a range of large groups across the United States – including choral, pilgrimage, Christian heritage and educational groups. Their fact-finding visit was a fantastic opportunity to showcase what Mayo and Ireland has to offer such groups. They enjoyed a tour of Westport House before visiting the Croagh Patrick Visitor Centre and the National Famine Monument in Murrisk. Carefully selected and invited here by Tourism Ireland in New York, the itinerary for the tour operators was designed by Fáilte Ireland.
Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s head of North America, said: “Tourism Ireland was delighted to invite these group tour organisers to visit Mayo and Ireland. We believe it is extremely important for decision-makers such as these to experience for themselves the high standard of the tourism product and the many things to see and do in Ireland, so they are better equipped to advise their clients on future travel plans. North America is an extremely important market for tourism to the island of Ireland and 2013 is shaping up to be a record year – with the latest CSO figures, to the end of September, showing North American visitor numbers up +14.6 per cent on the same nine-month period last year. Since last year, the Gathering has been a focus of Tourism Ireland’s promotions, to make Ireland a ‘must visit’ choice for a holiday in 2013, for both the Diaspora and non-Diaspora around the US.”