Whether you are going by coach, renting a car, taking a bike tour or backpacking it, Ireland is a great place to get around. And getting to the Emerald Isle is easier than ever also. Managing Director of IrishTourism.com Tony Keane explains.
What is your own heritage/ethnic background?
Both my parents hail from Annascaul on the Dingle Peninsula and they emigrated to London in 1956 like many people at that time to escape the crippling poverty. I grew up in a very Irish environment and every summer we travelled back to Ireland for our family vacation. I had such fond memories of my youth in Ireland that I always wanted to come and live here one day. In 1998 I finally took the plunge and moved to Ireland with my young family.
What inspired you to start/get involved with the business?
After moving to Ireland, numerous family and friends contacted me for help and advice planning their own visits to Ireland. It soon became apparent that there was a gap in the market for an online service to provide that help and from that our website was born. Along with my business partner Ronan Gleeson, I developed the website further and launched it in March 2002.
Are these all the same reasons that you keep doing what you do?
Both Ronan and I share a passion for Ireland and everything Irish. Throughout the years we have put together a wonderful team of people that share our passion and who have an in-depth knowledge of Ireland. We are all committed to sharing our knowledge to help create the most memorable vacations for our customers. That’s why we do what we do!
What are your core products?
The Irish Tourism Group specializes in creating customized self-drive tours, chauffeured tours, golf and special interest vacations for individuals as well as exclusive tours for larger groups to Ireland. In recent years experiential tourism, where the visitor gets to indulge their own personal passions and interests, has become very popular. To satisfy that demand we have created a range of themed tours such as Traditional Irish Music, Knitting & Craft, Pilgrimage & Faith and even Viking Tours following the success of the popular TV show The Vikings! Tailor-making vacations and group tours is another huge part of our business and we often assist schools, universities, choral groups, clubs, societies and sports groups plan their own tours of Ireland.
What distinguishes you from your competition?
We are all about personal service! We provide a dedicated travel advisor, a 24/7 help-line and a comprehensive personal touring guide. As we like to say to our customers ‘while you are here, we are here’! We are a member of the Incoming Tour Operators Association-Ireland (ITOA), The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and the Canadian Association of Travel Agents (ACTA). As members of the ITOA, we are subject to strictly enforced measures that ensure that members of this association are at all times financially secure for our customers’ peace of mind.
What are you future plans for the business?
Our future plans are to continue to offer the excellent service that we provide and to continually look to improve our service. We are delighted that 2013 was a record year for numbers of visitors to Ireland from the USA and Canada and with the announcement of new routes to Dublin Airport from San Francisco, Newark, Toronto and Saint John’s and new routes to Shannon Airport from Boston, New York and Chicago we are looking forward to thousands more in 2014!