From taking in filming locations for Game of Thrones to a sunny day at the scenic Giant’s Causeway despite threats of a storm rolling in, PressToday is on location in Ireland this week for what’s proving to be an adventurous FAM along with Canadian travel agents and tour operators.
“The goal is really to increase business to Ireland and brand awareness,” explains Jonathan Sargeant, trade promotions and e-marketing executive at Tourism Ireland, about the annual FAM. “We normally do two nights in Northern Ireland to get the message out about the beautiful city of Belfast and Derry-Londonderry, and also showcase the likes of the Giant’s Causeway and the Causeway Coastal Route. From Canada, obviously, the travel trade are very important in terms of bringing business to Ireland — over 30% of all trips to Ireland are booked with the travel trade, if not more — so it’s certainly a very important market and we realize that here.”
Hosted by Tourism Ireland, Tourism Northern Ireland and Failte Ireland, the FAM will also feature an expo day for the trade to meet with Irish industry partners for a series of speed dating style one-on-one networking meetings.
“It’s an opportunity for Irish industry to meet them face to face while they also get six days to explore the beautiful country,” he says. “Ireland is a really popular destination especially for North America and Canadians… we’ve had over a 100% increase since 2013 and we’ve had double-digit growth the last three years.”
Some of the highlights of the trip so far were:
- Experiencing the dramatic coastline of the Causeway Coastal Route, including the Giant’s Causeway world heritage site, which features some 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption 60 million years ago.
- Being regaled with tales about the history of Derry’s historical walls with Martin McCrossan City Tours, a company which operates highly-ranked walking tours and has had the likes of Will Ferrell on one of their excursions.
- A homemade meal and a bread making demonstration by Fred the Baker at the home of Tracey Jeffrey of NI Food Tours, a customizable experience agents can book for their clients.
- Visiting Castle Ward, which was used in the filming of Game of Thrones, for the Winterfell Game of Thrones Experience, to take in some popular shooting locations and an archery lesson. The series has had a tremendous impact on growing tourism to the region.
- Exploring Titanic Belfast, which was voted world’s best visitor attraction in 2016, to learn more about the history of the famous ship.
Stay tuned for more stories as we talk to agents and operators about their experiences in Ireland and follow along at twitter.com/CdnTravelPress and #CAIrelandFAM! Above: some of the trade group is pictured at Glenarm Castle.