Hosts included Dana Welsh of Tourism Ireland, AC’s Virgilio Russi, Ambassador Kelly and SNN’s Declan Power
Scott Roseblade of Goway, Vanessa Thomas of AC, Jim Morrison of Goway and AC’s Tony Cielo
Munchies included delicious Irish pies
Ah, the Irish. So famous for their humour, their literature, their stamina.
Fresh off the weekend celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day, a host of Irish tourism execs and Air Canada brass, along with their tour operator partners, key retailers, prominent Irish-Canadians and witty conversationalists in general – hosted a festive, noisy and fun evening in downtown Toronto this week. As the group of 150 or so enjoyed authentic Irish treats including live music, oysters and lamb chops, we had the chance to appreciate the charms of the Emerald Isle.
Being an island, increasing tourism numbers is all about access, so our hosts were very happy and proud that AC has upped its lift and will have, in peak season, a whopping 4,800 seats per week including YVR-DUB, YYZ-DUB (upped from Rouge to mainline service), YYZ-SNN and YUL-DUB.
Also present was Declan Power, head of aviation for Shannon Airport, who shamelessly calls his airport “The gateway to the real Ireland.” And in fact, with the unveiling a couple of years ago of the Wild Atlantic Way – a route to explore the island’s dramatic western shore – more Canadians are looking to explore beyond Dublin. The fact that National Geographic has dubbed Donegal, with its pristine beaches and offshore islands in Ireland’s northwest, “The coolest place on the planet” can’t hurt. He’s hoping the new route will be so popular that AC increases frequency from four flights a week to daily service next year.
Perhaps the Irish Ambassador to Canada, the affable Jim Kelly – who admits that nowadays St. Patrick’s Day lasts for about a month - summed it up best: “The relationship between Ireland and Canada has never been stronger. We’re both in a challenging trade situation: Brexit for us, NAFTA for you, but we are natural partners in trade, investment, and connectivity.” And clearly in our appreciation of warmth, humour and genuine hospitality!
Martha Chapman Columnist
An OJ columnist since 2006, Martha is responsible for the Biting Questions features as well as special seasonal series. A travel industry lifer known to all in the biz, she frequently covers industry events for Open Jaw.