Belfast’s Titanic Exhibition Centre and Dublin’s RDS hosted this year’s primary tourism trade event with a footfall in Belfast of almost 23,000 and 43,000 in Dublin; those seeking information on planning their holiday for 2017 would not be disappointed at the array of choice with nearly 400 stands to browse and ask questions. The demographic was wide ranging; from trade to families and pensioners in addition to young groups and couples looking for specific activity based holidays.
Inishowen staff in collaboration with other tourism bodies in Donegal promoted the very best of what we have to offer in our respective areas of the county. Many people are attracted to the Holiday World Shows for the free competitions and our fantastic daily prize give-aways. We were able to give away a different prize package each day thanks to the generosity of Inishowen Tourism members. The prize packages consisted of accommodation and an evening meal plus an activity for two people. Over the 3 days Inishowen Tourism team collated nearly 1,000 competition entries from the combined shows of which 1 lucky winner was to be drawn for each day.
There was also an opportunity to network with other trade exhibitors, media representatives during the trade only morning on the first day; it was followed by the general public thereafter. The added attractions were highlighted to passers by the stand; our signature point section on the Wild Atlantic Way, Star Wars filming last year and the release of the famous imagery of the Northern Lights in the Peninsula. There was a constant buzz at both Inishowen stands in Belfast and Dublin. When asked whether individuals had visited the Peninsula/Donegal before it became apparent immediately; the reaction was a broad smile coming across their face. For those who had not yet travelled north to our Peninsula it was on their bucket list, and never more poignant as Donegal was voted N0 1 destination by the National Geographic Magazine named as “the coolest place to visit on the planet.” Some people thought it was so far away in relation to Dublin or the South to visit Malin Head signature point on the Wild Atlantic Way as part of their journey. However, although the “too far north” conception is hard to break it was comparatively less of a concern at this year’s shows.
Positive feedback was recorded by the staff from great happy memories, special unique experiences and the common underlying theme was captured as “it’s the People” in Inishowen that seemed to make their holiday in terms of such a warm welcome to make them want to return. There were distinct areas of interest in terms of what families wanted in Inishowen; camping, cycling and information on walking routes throughout the Peninsula.
It didn’t take long for us to see our first visitor from the stand at Dublin. Mike from Wexford decided to venture up to Inishowen with his motor home to check out the facilities in the Buncrana area and take a few photos to share at home. It was a pleasure to see him in our office to say hello and let us know as requested if he was to visit the Peninsula. He stated that he was “so impressed by the stand and all the information that I decided to take a diverted route out of Letterkenny to say hello and stay over ahead of coming up for my annual holiday with the family”. When asked what he thought about the experience so far he said he was “more than happy with the literature provided and facilities” he went on to make a joke that it would be “hopefully a little warmer than this February day”.
Throughout the show in Dublin I quoted that my caption for the Peninsula was it was in fact “the jewel in the crown of Ireland” followed by my colleague adding “don’t dream just go and see for yourself, no time like the present” people left the stand full of enthusiasm with a promise to make it up here and call in at the office to feedback their experience. With positive media coverage and global sharing we have never had such an opportunity to showcase this beautiful Peninsula and further to meeting media and press at the show in Dublin multiple connections have been made to add to the great vibe with further articles and global coverage. We look forward to welcoming them to Ireland’s most northerly point.