The Minister Marine, Mr. Pat the Cope Gallagher, T.D. is leading an Irish industry trade mission to the United States in a bid to develop and continue to sell Ireland as a prime destination for an estimated potential 80,000 US Cruise tourists in 2005.
The mission coincides with the largest annual gathering of cruise line owners, operators and suppliers in the world, in Miami, Florida. The event attracts over 950 cruise companies representing 100 countries. It takes place from March 14th to 17th, including St. Patrick’s Day, presenting a unique opportunity to market the Irish “experience” during this period.
Minister Gallagher, T.D., together with representatives of the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) and Irish ports & cruise sector is attending the International Cruise Convention, along with Cruise Ireland, a marketing agency whose members include suppliers, port companies and agents from the North and South of Ireland to promote Ireland as a destination for the Cruise sector.
“The international cruise market is now a big business opportunity for Ireland, “ said the Minister. “In 2004 it brought over 140,000 visitors into our tourist industry through ports such as Cork, Dublin, Belfast, Waterford, Derry and Killybegs. Numbers of visitors are rising year on year and represent a very real area for growth and jobs and our objective is to increase Irelands position as a premier market destination.”
Latest IMDO figures show that Ireland’s share of the international cruise sector had risen steadily over the previous ten years to some 146,198, cruise ship passengers and crew, an increase of 23% over 2003. During the previous four years, the number of cruse liners visiting ports on the Ireland had nearly doubled, from 77 in the year 2000, to 142 in 2004.
“The US market is the most important market and accounts for the largest segment of passengers visiting Ireland last year and is also where the industry is controlled,” said IMDO Director Mr. Glenn Murphy. “Fifty-three percent of all cruise visitors coming ashore in Ireland originate in the US. In total the cruise sector contributed in excess of €75m to the Irish economy in 2004 supporting over 540 jobs”
The IMDO and Cruise Ireland will host a breakfast between the Minister and the key cruise industry executives organised for Wednesday, March 16th as well as a special St Patrick’s Day lunch time event on the 17th. Both events are aimed at continuing to promote Ireland as a prime tourist destination for US cruise liners.
International cruise vessels have visited the island of Ireland since the late 1960s. In 1994 Cruise Ireland, and all-Ireland body made up of ports, shipping and ancillary service and hospitality sectors, was set up to promote and market Ireland as a destination.