Hippy trail golf tourism target


The world tourism trail is turning full circle with a Northern Ireland minister selling Irish tourism in India.

In the past, India was the destination for well-heeled western backpackers re-creating the hippy trail of the 60s blazed by the Beatles.

However, Enterprise Minister Nigel Dodds has hopes that an Irish smile and pristine golf courses may attract newly rich visitors from the sub-continent.

Mr Dodds met Indian tour operators and journalists at Tourism Ireland’s offices in Mumbai to plug the attractions of Northern Ireland.

“If Northern Ireland is to realise its true potential and secure ongoing success, the tourism industry must expand its focus beyond traditional core markets and look to the opportunities presented by new and developing markets, such as India,” Mr Dodds said.

Core tourism markets for Northern Ireland remain Britain, mainland Europe and north America.

The Indian economy is booming and more than 8 million people from the sub-contintent holiday overseas every year, a figure which tourism experts think will rise to 50 million by 2020.

“London is, already, one of the most popular destinations and it makes sense for Tourism Ireland to target those Indian visitors who travel to other areas of the UK or to Europe, to encourage them to visit Northern Ireland as part of their trip,” Mr Dodds said.

A marketing campaign is under way in India, plugging the attractions of the Emerald Isle, featuring images of the Giant’s Causeway and Belfast.

The campaign highlights the beautiful scenery, world class golf, rich and diverse history and culture, as well as vibrant cities and nightlife.

An extensive publicity programme is also in place, as well as an increased focus on attracting major Bollywood films to Northern Ireland.

Mr Dodds is not the only Northern Ireland export in India at the moment, champion golfer Darren Clarke is playing in the inaugural Indian Masters competition.