Minister Donohoe to encourage tourism and investment in Ireland during St. Patrick’s Day Programme in California

11th March, 2015

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, today (Wednesday) travelled to San Francisco and Scramento as part of the Government’s St. Patrick’s Day programme for 2015. The focus of the trip will be on encouraging tourism to Ireland from the US in even greater numbers and bringing a message to US boardrooms that Ireland is very much open for business (see programme outline below).


While in California, Minister Donohoe will meet with tourism and transport related IDA Enterprise Ireland client companies in Silicon Valley, facilitate a Tourism Ireland and Aer Lingus trade and tourism media engagement, hold a meeting with LucasFilm and meet with the Speaker of the Californian State Assembly and key State legislators. These meetings will discuss how Ireland’s recovery can be further secured with additional US trade and investment leading to more jobs at home.


Minister Donohoe will also attend an Irish community event in the prestigious Graduate Business School of Stanford University where he will launch the Government’s new Diaspora strategy on the west coast.  There, he will recognise the vital contribution that the Irish community of Silicon Valley are making in a region that plays such a pivotal role in Ireland’s economic recovery.


On Saturday 14th March, Minister Donohoe will be guest of honour at the 164th annual San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which is the largest celebration of Irish culture and heritage on the west coast.


Speaking this afternoon Minister Donohoe said: ‘It gives me great pride to travel to the US this week to represent Ireland during the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in California. The message I will be bringing into the boardrooms and meeting will be clear: It is that Ireland is offers strong investment potential, is a good place in which to do business and that and we are very much open for trade.


“From examining the expansion of IDA’s west-coast operations, and the positive aspects of the J1 programme in southern California, to learning more about the planned expansion of the Aer Lingus Dublin-SFO direct service in summer 2015 and the associated potential for increased tourism, my visit to the US this week presents a chance to really sell Ireland abroad and to enhance investment in Ireland in the months and years ahead.


“No other country has the capacity to reach out to the rest of the world in the way the Irish do on St. Patrick’s Day. It not only gives us access to companies across the world to enable us to promote Ireland but it brings an enormous sense of pride to the people at home, and to the diaspora abroad, that Ireland is showcased in this way.


“St. Patrick’s Day allows us to demonstrate, on a global level, what a fantastic country Ireland is. And the enthusiasm of countries across the world to get involved in initiatives such as the Global Greening demonstrates the esteem in which Ireland is held worldwide.


“The US is a critical market for Irish tourism.  In fact, 2014 was a record year when over 1.3 million North Americans visited Ireland; the highest number ever recorded. These visits generated estimated spending of more than $1billion.That represents a huge boost to our economy and we have ambitious targets to grow this even more. Our initiative on the travel tax has made it easier for tourists to get to Ireland in recent years and has been very well received by the airlines.  Nowhere are the results more visible than in the United States which has seen a major expansion in air access in 2013 and 2014, with further growth this year.  In fact, 2015 will see a further 14% expansion in direct air capacity from the US to Ireland during the peak season, making it even easier for potential tourists to get to Ireland.


“Last year’s St. Patrick’s Day programme saw the Government participate in124 high-level political meetings, directly reaching audiences of over 353,000 with coordinated messages on tourism, trade and investment. These efforts secured €5 million in new business for Ireland. I look forward to playing my part this year in securing an even greater return for Ireland by getting the message out that there has never been a better time to visit and invest in Ireland.”


Press Office, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

01 604 1090 / 01 604 1093


Programme outline:
Wednesday 11th March 

  • Enterprise Ireland Client Event (c. 150 attendees)


Thursday 12th March

  • Programme at the State Capitol in Sacramento for the Adoption of the Assembly Resolution honouring California’s Irish Heritage
  • Tourism Ireland/Aer Lingus event (100-150 attendees) San Francisco
  • Visiting tourism/transport related IDA client companies


Friday 13th March

  • Visit to AirBnb Headquaters (IDA client company) San Francisco
  • Hibernian Newman Club St. Patrick’s Day Celebration  (c. 800 attendees)
    Largest St. Patrick’s Day business networking event in San Francisco
  • Meeting with Lucas Films
  • Silicon Valley St. Patrick’s Day event at Stanford University supported by Enterprise Ireland/Tourism Ireland


Saturday 14th March

  • St. Patrick’s Day Service
  • 164th Annual Downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade, San Francisco
  • Meeting with Irish community organisations and leaders
  • Business networking event with the Irish Network of the Bay Area


Sunday 15th March

  • Meeting with potential IDA client companies in Silicon Valley
  • St. Patrick’s remembrance mass in Irish for members of the Irish-American community of Silicon Valley / San Jose
  • Meeting with the San Jose / Dublin Sister City Committee