Week’s events: Canadian tourist market, Cricket Ireland, Dublin Aviation Institute, GAA for tourists & Euro 2020

21st September, 2014

This week I helped Tourism Ireland launch a review of the Canadian market. The plan is to boost the number of visitors coming to Ireland from Canada, and the amount of money those tourists spend while here, by 47% by 2016. Tourism Ireland does fantastic work in targeting the markets with the greatest potential for growth. And with a goal to increase the number of Canadian visitors to the island of Ireland to 184,000 and to deliver revenue of €134 million, the potential impact on the jobs market and our domestic economy is immense. Canadian visitors are estimated to have grown by +28% over the period 2011 to 2013 so there is no reason why Niall Gibbons and his staff at Tourism Ireland cannot deliver what they set out to achieve. As always, I was happy to play my part.


Irish cricket got a huge lift this week too, signing a multi-million euro, 10-year sponsorship deal with the Indian conglomerate, Shapoorji Pallonji Group, on Wednesday afternoon. The sponsorship agreement includes naming rights for the Cricket Ireland Academy, which will now be known as the Shapoorji Pallonji Cricket Ireland Academy. The Group will also become an official partner to Cricket Ireland. This deal provides a massive boost to the sport, securing the future of our cricketers for years to come. It now puts Cricket Ireland in a position to be able to propel the sport forward and encourage young boys and girls to get involved, as we work toward becoming one of just 11 cricket test nations by 2020.


There were also further developments in the aviation sector with the launch of the Dublin Aviation Institute (DAI) this week. The DAI is a partnership between the Dublin Airport Authority and Dublin City University. This is a really exciting venture, the aim of which is to ensure that Irish aviation positions itself as a world leader in education, research and innovation. This sector contributes hugely to our economic development and is the channel through which our tourism and trade can prosper and grow.


Finally, I opened the first ever visitor centre for a company called Experience Gaelic Games. Based at Na Fianna GAA Club in Glasnevin, the company organises fun and interactive sessions in GAA clubs across Ireland for foreign visitors to learn about the importance of Gaelic games in modern Ireland. Voted as the number one thing to do in Dublin by Trip Advisor for the last 20 months, this unique tourism product demonstrates the passion that drives the 2,300 GAA clubs across Ireland. And with more live spectators in Croke Park this year for the hurling final (82,179) than at the World Cup final in Brazil (74,738), sharing that passion with the rest of the world and teaching them about our national sports is essential.


Dublin’s success in bidding to be one of the host cities of UEFA Euro 2020 topped off the week; a brilliant feat for the sport, the country and everyone involved in the process. Having four matches over a three week period in June 2020, including three Group stage games and one Round of 16 game, played at the Aviva Stadium will put a huge spring in the nation’s step as we come centre stage in the world of sport. With that in mind, I wish Kerry and Donegal the very best of luck this weekend in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final.