Sitting in the Aer Lingus lounge awaiting my flight to Dublin following a hectic but productive sales trip in the US. I am so happy to be heading home to see the family and get back to routine at Harvey’s Point.
This trip was organized by my good friend Emer Mortell from a company called Celebrated Experiences who are the destination specialists for Ireland, representing the crème de la crème of fine Irish hotels. I was in good company with Carol from Ballynahinch Castle and Bronagh from the Fitzwilliam hotel hotel in Dublin. We visited Minneapolis, St Louis and Chicago doing sales calls each day to luxury travel advisors. The pace of work and travel was crazy but we had so much fun together. It’s not so glamorous living out of a suitcase and worse still, lugging the luggage laden with brochures etc from airport to airport, hotel to hotel.
True to the spirit of Ireland, each evening was spent entertaining clients and socializing in many fabulous restaurants and bars. We were even invited to talk about tourism in Ireland on a popular radio station in Chicago, ‘The Skinny & Houli Show’. The studio was situated in an Irish pub! We felt right at home.
During our travels, it was most encouraging to hear the great interest in Ireland as a destination for the discerning US traveller. According to the Tourism Ireland United States website, the US remains the second most important market to the island of Ireland (after GB) in terms of visitors, holidaymakers, promotables and revenue. Most of US visitors travel on a sightseeing & culture seeking holiday. There has never been such a great time to visit the Emerald Isle due to the strength of the dollar and also the increased awareness of the great product we have in terms of hotels and restaurants in Ireland. There is also improved air access which has helped considerably. Above all, our friends in the US love the friendliness of our people. Our Cead Mile Failte is still our best asset and this we must nurture and cherish.
It was my brief to promote the northern half of Ireland as an exciting new destination and having been out in the marketplace for almost ten years now, feedback on this trip proved that our region is now well positioned to enjoy substantial growth in tourist numbers. The Wild Atlantic Way is of course a wonderful hook to put Donegal and the Western seaboard on the map.
I believe in selling the destination first and then Harvey’s Point as the base for touring the North West. I was delighted that the travel advisors loved the story of Harvey’s Point, how it evolved organically over twenty-six years and that it is family owned and managed. Their clients seek high standards of hotel keeping as well as the very best in hospitality.
It’s an exciting time for the Irish hotel industry on this positive path of progress and for sure, I will continue to fly the flag for tourism in Donegal. In the meantime, I now bid farewell to the ‘windy city’ and look forward to extending the warmest of welcomes to the many visitors that will hopefully arrive on our shores in the coming months and years.
18th April 2015