In the biggest single movement of tourists from any one given country in 2012, Donegal Town and indeed the whole county is set to host over 17,000 German tourists over an eight month period commencing in March securing over 200 existing jobs and creating further opportunities for businesses throughout the county.
The all inclusive package was launched on the German tourism market just last week by Trendtours Touristik and their Irish partners the White Hotel Group and to date has already attracted over 3,500 bookings.
Speaking to the Donegal Democrat, the innovative hotelier Jim White of the White Hotel Group confirmed that he will be bringing a total of 17,000 bednights from Germany to Donegal next year and that he expects this not only to continue but to grow in future years
White said, “This will have a major impact on tourism in Donegal and in tandem with our partners in Germany we have put together a totally authentic package which will give our German visitors a taste of the real Ireland.
“The implications for both primary and secondary employment are tremendous. With 17,000 tourists coming in to the county there are many challenges but in the existing financial climate these are extremely welcome;
“We are currently attempting to source 15 coaches and minibuses and obviously guides and receptionists to accompany the visitors - our intention would be to recruit locally in Donegal and we would ask both coach companies and interested parties to contact us at our head office in Ballyshannon.
“Obviously for both the guides and receptionists a knowledge of German is essential.
“We also hope to produce a shopping guide which will offer discounts to our visitors during their stay - at the moment most shops are offering various types of incentives to their customers so now they will have the opportunity to reach a wider market.
“Already some of the major companies in Donegal have come on board offering discounts of 20% and upwards - we would ask other retail outlets to contact our head office in Ballyshannon if they want to be included in this booklet. This is a tremendous opportunity for businesses throughout the county.
“This is not just confined to Donegal Town - these tourists will visit many parts of the county and have time to avail of special offers.
“Thankfully we are blessed with highly skilled hospitality staff in Donegal and this venture will secure the employment for the existing 200 staff in both the Abbey and Central Hotels.
“To ensure total customer satisfaction we are arranging German classes for all our staff commencing in January - this is an all embracing venture and it gives me a lot of personal satisfaction knowing that this will have a higly beneficial impact on the local economy.
“Obviously a venture of this size means that our own bedroom capacity in Donegal Town will be stretched and I would ask other hoteliers throughout the county who might be interested in working with us to contact Eamonn Gillespie here at the Central Hotel in Donegal town.”
The ten page full colour brochure produced by Trendtours Touristik and the White Hotel Group is both highly attractive and informative and offers the client a ten day all inclusive stay in Ireland with a multitude of activities for just under €1,200.
Prior to arriving in Donegal the guests will visit both Florencecourt Caves and Belleek Pottery and during their stay will enjoy sheepdog trials in Barnes Gap, scale the mighty cliffs of Slieve League, visit both Glenveigh National Park and Ionad Crois Locha in Dunlewey, take in a trip on Donegal Bay in the Waterbus and a visit to Rossnowlagh where they can experience one of the most beautiful beaches in the country.
A traditional Irish session has also been arranged for the visitors each night in Cashelard which will provide a truly Irish experience.
White added, “The German market is a highly discerning and informed market - they do their research and know exactly what they want. “They are not interested in the ‘stage Ireland’ type of product they want to discover and experience the ‘real Ireland’.
“We have worked closely with Trendtours Touristik and have both visited each and every product on the brochure - we are totally confident that this product is going to be a truly great success and I know that together with the people of Donegal, the county will be well known for its high quality and warmth of welcome on the German market for many years to come.”
Paul Mcloone, the General Manager of Failte Irl. N.W. welcomed the initiative saying, “Primarily I would like to congratulate Jim White and the White Hotel for their vision in this venture.
“We have been working together on this for over two years and it has now come to fruition thanks to the persistence and professionalism of Jim White.
“There was an option not to come to Donegal but the level of investment in some of our iconic attractions like Slieve League and Glenveigh has finally paid off - we now have a product which we can sell on any market.
“Over the last year we have managed to increase our share on the domestic market, remained stagnant on the N. Ireland market and essentially made no impact on the overseas markets.
“Recent CSO figures have shown that 43,000 overseas tourists visited Donegal in the last year - this simply is not enough, we need up on 100,000 visitors to make any significant impact. Overseas tourism is crucial to the realisation of the tourism potential in Donegal.
“What we need is another 10 or 20 Jim Whites to get out there and work together with the various agencies to ensure that this target can be realised.
“This German initiative is an example of how working together can yield great benefits not only to the individual hotels but to the overall economy.”