Ciaran Cannon, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with special responsibility for the Diaspora and International Development, had arrived on Wednesday on a two-day visit to Doha aimed at strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries.
“Last year we had 2,000 visitors from Qatar to Ireland and this year we are working on developing it to 10,000 using that new link between Doha and Dublin,” Cannon told Gulf Times on the sidelines of a business event at City Center Rotana.
Cannon said tourism forms a large part of the Irish economy, attracting more than 11mn foreign visitors last year.
“Business people can go and do business in Ireland and then stay on for a holiday. We have horse racing, high quality tourism infrastructure, wonderful investment haven over the past 30 to 40 years, magnificent hotels, comfortable high quality holidays for Qataris and “a legendary Irish welcome,” he added.
Cannon also met with Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs HE Sultan bin Saad al-Muraikhi and talked about how to enhance tourism opportunities between Qatar and Ireland.
“We had a long discussion about what Qatari tourists like when they go abroad. He said they like to stay in high quality hotels, travel in families, they like shopping and they like to go to the countryside and see some scenic locations, Ireland has all of that,” he stressed.
According to the minister, the latest episode of the Star Wars and Game of Thrones were filmed in Ireland, a reason why many travellers want to visit the European country.
In enticing Qataris to visit Ireland, he stressed that they are “very anxious” in tailoring tourism offerings for the Qatar market to determine what they want.
Irish ambassador Paul Kavanagh echoed Cannon’s statements citing the growing number of leisure and business visitors to Ireland from Qatar and other nationalities from various countries due to many reasons.
“Ireland is the number five financial centre in the European Union (EU) after London, Frankfurt, Paris, and Luxemburg,” the envoy noted. “It is the number four exporter of financial services in Europe and the number one centre in the world for hedge funds, amount of funds under management in Ireland exceeds €4tn.”
“Ireland is the number one exporter of life insurance in Europe and it is the world leading country for aircraft leasing,” he said.
Kavanagh added that Ireland is an ideal platform for investment in Europe within the single market of 500mn people for investment coming in from all over the world, including Qatar and other Gulf countries.
“Ireland is going to remain and strongly committed to our membership in the EU so after the British leaves the EU, it will be the only mother tongue English language Common Law country left in the Union and therefore it will be even more attractive base for investment,” he pointed out.
About trade ties, the envoy noted that bilateral trade between Qatar and Ireland is about €500mn and it is mostly around aviation and financial services.