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Leading island of Ireland Travel Companies Wrap Up Successful 2019 UAE Trade Mission

A cohort of leading travel companies from the island of Ireland visited the UAE this week, to further promote tourism, travel and bilateral connections between the two countries.


The two-day event, which took place in Abu Dhabi on 4th February and Dubai on 5th February, comprised of 12 major island of Ireland organisations representing industries that included travel, tourism, tours and hospitality.  Nearly 200 UAE companies had the opportunity to meet with them directly, to further strengthen relations and business opportunities by means of a series of 1-2-1 appointments, workshops and networking sessions.


This year’s delegation represented prominent organisations such as Guinness Storehouse, Kildare Retail Services Ltd., InterContinental Dublin, Irish Rugby Tours, Specialized Travel Services, The Merrion, The Savoy Collection, Ireland Links Golf, Failte Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland,


The Irish Embassy in Abu Dhabi participated in the workshops in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Ambassador Aidan Cronin, Ireland’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, also hosted a networking event in Abu Dhabi for Irish companies participating in the Trade Mission and local industry contacts.


Speaking after what he described as a “very successful Trade Mission”, Ambassador Cronin said: “The Irish Embassy in Abu Dhabi is working hard to develop Ireland’s already very positive profile in the UAE as a great place to visit, to do business with, to invest in and in which to be educated. From a tourism perspective, the UAE is currently one of Tourism Ireland’s top emerging markets and the Embassy will continue to do all that it can to support Tourism Ireland in its work. This very successful Trade Mission was a fantastic opportunity for the Irish tourism industry to cement existing relationships and to establish new relationships in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.  I was delighted that the Embassy was able to play its part in facilitating and encouraging such important relationship-building.”


He continued, “The lifting of visa requirements for UAE nationals in 2018 was a hugely significant step, as was the opening of Irish Visa Application Centres in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, in partnership with VFS Global. With all of these very positive developments, I am confident that Ireland will continue to thrive and grow as a premium destination for both locals and for expatriates living in the UAE.”


Leading this year’s event was Siobhan McManamy, Director of Markets for Tourism Ireland.  She commented: “The tourism and hospitality industry continues to be one of the most crucial for the development of Ireland as a country, and the UAE remains an important market for us to drive overall growth.  Visitor numbers are testament to this, as the island of Ireland experienced its highest number of Middle East travellers last year – of which it is estimated that almost two thirds came from the UAE alone.”


Anecdotal statistics for the increasing visitor numbers from the UAE to Ireland in 2018 included:

  • Emirates Airlines: Reported a 17% year on year increase in total business coming from the UAE into Ireland on the Dubai route since January 2018
  • Etihad Airlines: Reported a 14% year on year increase in total business coming from the UAE to Ireland on the Abu Dhabi route in 2018
  • Dnata Travel: Has experienced a 63.5% increase in year-on-year travel from the UAE to Ireland in 2018, since the announcement of visa free travel for Emiratis to Ireland.


Significant events are on the horizon for the island of Ireland in 2019.  The highly-anticipated airing of the final Game of Thrones season in April – filmed largely in Northern Ireland – as well as the 148th Open in July returning to Northern Ireland for only the second time in its prestigious history, means the country will continue to be an attractive travel destination for the Middle East.


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