Meitheal, the longest established travel trade event for the Irish tourism industry, kicked off in Dublin’s Citywest Hotel on the morning of Tuesday, 2nd April.

Running since 1975, Meitheal is Fáilte Ireland’s flagship trade event and organised in conjunction with Tourism Ireland. The show is staged over two days and emables Irish tourism businesses to pitch face-to-face to international buyers. It is estimated that over 13,500 appointments or ‘pitch meetings’ have been scheduled for the two days the event is to run.

In total, over 600 Irish businesses and 300 international buyers and tour operators from more than 22 countries, including Britain, the US, China and India, will be in attendance. This marks the largest attendance at Meitheal to date with a 25% increase in the number of international buyers and a 21% growth the number of Irish businesses attending compared to last year.

This year, for the first time, the business tourism market will also be targeted by the Irish trade, with international business events and conference planners from the US, Canada, Britain, France and Germany attending. Fáilte Ireland has identified Business Tourism as a priority sector as it helps businesses prepare for Brexit.

This year’s event is being billed as the most significant in Meitheal’s history with the possibility of a no-deal Brexit looming. In the case of a hard Brexit, Fáilte Ireland’s research shows that Ireland could lose more than 1m overseas tourists from Britain alone as well as other core markets, which could cost the tourism sector €380m and 10,000 jobs in the first year.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, said: “The Government is absolutely committed to growing tourism in Ireland and helping industry prepare for Brexit. Meitheal is the largest tourism event of its kind in Ireland and it is a hugely important event that provides a unique platform for selling everything we have to offer. This event wouldn’t be possible without the great work being done by individual businesses and communities across Ireland to attract visitors and I want to pay tribute to them.”

Minister of State for Tourism, Brendan Griffin, said: “I wish the many hundreds attending Meitheal every success over the next two days as they meet directly with overseas buyers. Great credit is due to the team at Fáilte Ireland for organising this fantastic initiative that is now in its 44th year.”

Fáilte Ireland’s CEO Paul Kelly said: “This year’s event will have a strong focus on retaining business from the UK, as well as winning business from other lucrative markets. I’m confident our overseas delegates will see first-hand what it is that sets Ireland apart as an outstanding visitor destination.”

The overseas buyers were brought on several fact-finding tours across the country by Fáilte Ireland in the days leading up to Meitheal. The itineraries were designed by Fáilte Ireland to give the overseas buyers a first-hand experience of what holidaymakers can expect to see and do while in Ireland, be they leisure or business tourism visitors.

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