Middle East / GCC
Outbound travel from the Middle East to the island of Ireland has seen significant growth in recent years. Tourism Ireland estimates there were 71,000 visitors from the Middle East to the island of Ireland in 2017. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) includes six countries; United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.
A key factor influencing the growth of visitor numbers from the GCC to the island of Ireland is the significant advances in air access. There are now four airlines operating direct flights from the Middle East to Ireland – Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines.
Another important factor influencing growth in visitor numbers from the UAE to Ireland was the Government’s decision to allow visa free travel for all UAE nationals from the 31st January 2018. Emirates Airlines reported a 17% increase in total business coming from the UAE to Ireland since January 2018 which they attribute to the lifting of these visa requirements.
Within the GCC, Tourism Ireland focuses on the UAE and Qatar due to direct flight access and visa free travel (UAE only). Both markets have a high volume of high-spending tourists with a preference for luxury travel.
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