TWELVE leading tour operators from Russia visited Clare and the West of Ireland last week. Their visit was organised by UK inbound tour operator, Camelot Tours, and supported by Tourism Ireland to help grow Ireland’s share of the rapidly-growing Russian travel market.
News of efforts to develop the Russian market comes in a week when it was officially confirmed that North Americans travelled in big numbers to this country.
During their time here, the Russians saw many natural attractions, including the Cliffs of Moher, while they also inspected several hotels, among them Dromoland Castle Hotel and Bunratty Castle Hotel.
Jim Paul, Tourism Ireland’s head of developing markets, said, “We are delighted that these influential Russian tour operators have taken time out of their busy schedules to come and visit Co Clare and Ireland. For all of them, it was their first visit and they were extremely impressed by the spectacular scenery and rich heritage, the many things to see and do, as well as by the hospitality and friendliness of the people they met. Familiarisation visits such as these are extremely important, as they help to showcase what’s on offer in Ireland for potential holidaymakers from Russia.
“The majority of our overseas visitors come from the core tourism markets of Great Britain, North America and mainland Europe and, while this will continue, it is important that we expand our focus beyond these markets and look to the longer-term opportunities presented by Russia and the other BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries.”
The Russian economy is growing fast and travel is showing similar growth, with over 35 million visits outside of Russia taken each year.