METRO PLUS

Guinness calling

IRELAND BECKONS The country has something for everyone

IRELAND BECKONS The country has something for everyone  



As the Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach), Bertie Ahern T.D., is on an official visit to India, efforts are being made to highlight the tourism potential of the country. During his visit, he will host tourism events and have the opportunity to introduce the Indian market to the beauty, culture and rich heritage of the island of Ireland.Ireland offers breathtaking natural scenery, vast green golf courses, hill walking, deep sea diving, water sports, castles, not to mention Guinness. Travel enthusiasts can experience the rich history of Ireland through Great Georgian houses, archaeological monuments, even traditional thatched cottages.

Visa relaxations

The recent bilateral agreement between the U.K. and Indian governments promises to indirectly boost Indian tourism to Ireland. John O. Donoghue, Minister for Arts and Sport and Tourism says, "So far, there are no direct flights from India to Ireland, but the recent bilateral agreement between the U.K. and the Indian Government has resulted in a major expansion of new direct services between the two countries." He adds that they would try to ensure direct flights within the next four to five years. "Gulf Air has opened direct flights from Bahrain to Dublin and the Indian travellers will no longer require a U.K. visa," promises Donoghue. He has also declared a cultural agreement to be signed between the two countries to provide support to Indian artists.Paul O. Toole, Chief Executive, Tourism Ireland, explains, "We are focusing on India because it is among the fastest growing economies in the world today." Speaking on the initiatives taken to promote Irish Tourism, he adds, "We have brought some of the leading Indian tour operators and travel agents on familiarisation trips to Ireland. Further, We have been aggressively building joint alliances with travel and trade for joint promotion packages." All this is being done to facilitate travel from the region. As for the cultural agreement, he elaborates, "It's not only the artists we are providing relaxations for. Others too will be benefited as we are trying to make visas more accessible." Toole emphasises that the process of getting the Ireland message across to potential holidaymakers in India will be stepped up considerably in 2006. One can't deny that Ireland is also becoming a new destination for Bollywood filmmakers owing to its landscapes and scenic beauty. From shooting songs and important scenes, producers have now graduated to shooting their entire films overseas. Moreover, delegates from the Irish Film Board have been travelling to India and interacting with the Bollywood fraternity to provide information about the incentives to be provided to them.





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