Galway was in recent years voted ‘World’s Friendliest City’ by US Travel + Leisure magazine, was dubbed one of Ireland’s “most engaging” cities by the Lonely Planet, and last week was rated by iReach Insights as the most popular county for Irish people to go on holidays in 2018.
Our hospitality, friendliness and upbeat energy have made us one of the top visitor destinations this side of the world. So was the consensus from the dozens of tour operators we met when we attended Meitheal last week to promote Galway 2020.
Organised by Fáilte Ireland, the two-day global trade fair event organises over 12,000 appointments between Irish trade partners and overseas buyers. Over the two days, we met with 65 international tourist buyers, who are interested in bringing tourists and independent travellers to Ireland during 2020.
We could not have foreseen the enormous goodwill towards this part of the country, across the tourism sector. The enthusiasm for the name that Galway already has, and the excitement at what 2020 can offer, was huge. The fact that Galway is the place where Irish people go on holidays was highlighted as a peak selling point for tour operators.
Having such a large scale European event in Galway – a place that is so well known and so well regarded, was an added selling point. The tour operators were very enthusiastic about the fact that the majority of the programme will be free, and really liked the idea of community-based culture – of going into towns and villages throughout Galway to get involved in culture with locals. They all saw the huge possibilities for Galway 2020.
While Galway City is filled with tourists at certain points of the year, Galway 2020 will offer the tourism industry a chance to enjoy an extended tourism season for the majority of 2020. It will also ensure that the county reaps the benefits of tourism, with tourists encouraged to stay throughout the county during the year.
Not only will this impact positively on local businesses and the local economy, it will also ensure that both the county and city are alive with visitors from all parts of the world, making Galway 2020 a truly international event.
The feedback from the tour operators we spoke with was hugely positive…everyone wants to come to Galway for 2020, to take part in this once in a lifetime event.
If ever there was a time to visit Galway – 2020 is it.