Paula Carroll and Niall Rochford of Ashford Castle with Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland, in the Tourism Ireland office in New York.

Ashford Castle and Ice House Hotel bring Mayo to a wider audience

REPRESENTATIVES from Ashford Castle - including general manager Niall Rochford and sales director Paula Carroll - met with senior executives from Tourism Ireland during a visit this week to New York.

Meanwhile, 1.3 million Britons got to read about the Ice House Hotel and the Wild Atlantic Way in an article in The Sun newspaper last weekend.

In New York, the Ashford Castle duo were briefed on Tourism Ireland’s extensive promotional programme for 2017, which is in full swing right now and aims to build on the growth in American visitors to Ireland last year.

Tourism Ireland aims to surpass the record-breaking performance of 2016 and to grow revenue from North American visitors by +9% in 2017. North America is being prioritised this year as a market that offers a strong return on investment in terms of holiday visitors and expenditure.

With the announcement by Norwegian of new flights to Ireland from New York (Stewart International Airport) and Providence (Rhode Island), the total number of transatlantic airline seats this summer will be 60,000 from 20 North American gateways to the island of Ireland – that’s 10,000 additional seats (+20%) compared to summer 2016.

Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s head of North America operations, said their ambition to increase visitor numbers and revenue from North American tourists this year will be achieved by working in close collaboration with tourism partners, such as Ashford Castle, and rolling out an extensive programme of high impact campaigns and promotions that will target those consumers with greatest potential to travel to Ireland.

In the UK last weekend, meanwhile, the article in The Sun came about after Tourism Ireland in London, in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland, invited journalist Andrew Parker from the newspaper to visit last August. He stayed in the Ice House Hotel, Ballina, and wrote about the 'fabulous spa facilities' of the premises 'built into the banks of the River Moy - famed for its salmon fishing'.

“It’s a really good way of highlighting Ballina and the Wild Atlantic Way to a large audience of potential British visitors for Ireland,” said David Boyce, Tourism Ireland’s deputy head of Great Britain. “Publicity is an important element of Tourism Ireland’s overall promotional programme, helping to raise awareness through the British media of the many things to see and do on a holiday on the island of Ireland.”

Great Britain is Ireland's largest tourism market and 2016 was a very good year for visitor numbers to Ireland from Britain, showing an increase of almost +11% over 2015. The depreciation of sterling against the euro since the Brexit referendum means that value for money will be a key message for Tourism Ireland in Britain this year.