A tourism delegation led by Clare County Council and members of the Clare Tourism Advisory Forum will promote the Banner County as a desirable visitor destination to over 120,000 festival goers at Milwaukee Irish Fest in Wisconsin this weekend.
In the biggest international tourism promotion of County Clare since before the pandemic, 11 representatives of the local sector will showcase Shannon Airport and all that Clare has to offer in the centre of the festival village.
The Fest, established in 1981 by members of Milwaukee’s Irish community, is renowned as the world’s largest Irish culture festival and is a centrepiece event for Irish music, history, dance, sports, and culture in the United States. Ennis musician Mike Hanrahan of Stockton’s Wing fame and local group Socks in the Frying Pan will be performing alongside dozens of other artists, including Dervish, Emma Langford, Eileen Ivers, Finbar MacCarthy and We Banjo 3. Some of the Visit Clare delegation will attend Mike Hanrahan’s cookery demonstrations scheduled during the festival and hope to use the opportunity to promote some of Clare’s locally produced Geofood.
The festival, which runs until Sunday, is also used by tourism agencies such as Fáilte Ireland and group tour companies as an opportunity to market Ireland.
Cathaoirleach of Clare Cllr. Tony O’Brien says the purpose of the trip will be to highlight Shannon Airport as a key gateway to the West of Ireland and to increase overnight bed stays in Clare through the promotion of all its attractions in all areas of the County.
The Cathaoirleach continued, “This trip is all about the business, tourism and Local Government sectors working together to be proactive in how we directly market our county and the wider region to a wider audience. I am delighted to be able to lead the Clare delegation to Milwaukee and am confident that Clare will reap the benefits in 2023.”
Mr. O’Brien added that plans have been put in place to meet with delegates from the nearby Consulate General of Ireland (Chicago) office and diaspora representative groups in the US Midwest to further emphasise the ease of access to County Clare within the island of Ireland and to strengthen such international connections.
Deirdre O’Shea, Head of Tourism with Clare County Council, acknowledged that a Clare presence at the festival is key to capturing and increasing visitor numbers to the county at a time of increasing competition in the domestic and international tourism market.
“This week’s promotional trip to the USA will help position Clare as a competitive and appealing destination to the North American market,” Ms. OShea added. “We also look forward to engaging with group tour operators, Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland representatives with a view to positioning Clare to the forefront of all international marketing of the county for 2023.”
The Clare tourism delegation will distribute literature and information on Clare’s tourism attractions to the thousands of festival goers that pass through the 74-acre site on Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Images of County Clare taken from Peninsula Television’s ‘Ireland County by County’ series will be beamed on big screens. The 30-minute programme, which is financially supported by Clare County Council, Tourism Ireland, the Department of Foreign Affairs, An Bord Bia, National Parks & Wildlife Service and CIE Tours International, has been aired on the Create/PBS television network and has been seen by millions of TV viewers across the United States during 2022. The programme also is available to watch on Clare County Council’s YouTube channel.
Sean Lally, Chair of the Clare Tourism Advisory Forum, commented, “Thousands of people from the U.S. Midwest and Northeast Regions have booked flights into Shannon Airport because of the Clare tourism delegation’s presence at Milwaukee Irish Fest down through the years. We hope to build on this result this year by encouraging even more people to visit County Clare via Shannon Airport.”
Meanwhile, festival goers visiting the Clare tourism stall will be invited to win a break away to County Clare. Festival goers are asked to scan a code on one of thousands of Visit Clare-themed Drink mats. The Visit Clare promotional competition is themed “Cheers from Clare”. Up to 5,000 biodegradable drink mats will be distributed across the site to be in with a chance of winning. People can also enter online at www.visitclare.ie/cheers. Competition entries close on September 30th.