Name: Alison Metcalfe
Title: Executive vice president, United States & Canada
Company, city: Tourism Ireland; New York, N.Y.
Number of employees: 150 globally, 25 in North America
Recent project: I led the development of Tourism Ireland’s 2016 overseas marketing plan encompassing North America, Europe, Great Britain and developing markets.
First job: Graduate management trainee with Visit Britain (formerly British Tourist Authority) in London, U.K.
Essential business philosophy: Make decisions and develop strategy based on facts and insights, be sensitive to adjust to external factors affecting business, have a clear understanding of the key drivers of growth, and judge people on their actions and performance.
Best way to keep a competitive edge: Build on strengths to differentiate your product offering. Look to the future, plan for growth and build market share. Focus on consumers, understand their needs and motivations and how to reach them. Develop a skilled and motivated team.
Yardstick of success: Annual holiday visitor and expenditure targets for tourism, making a significant and sustaining contribution to the economy throughout Ireland
Alison Metcalfe as a Traveler
What is the most important item you take when traveling? My iPhone and iPad portable battery pack
How do you spend your time on board? Catching up on news, and I love leafing through the Irish papers if traveling trans-Atlantic. After that, it’s time to read Vanity Fair, watch a movie and rest.
What is your favorite restaurant in the world? Ireland has so many great ones, I couldn’t possibly single out just one.
What is your favorite destination in the world? Ireland, of course! But Carmel and the Monterey Peninsula in California remind me of Ireland’s coastal routes.
About Tourism Ireland
Tell our readers about accessibility to and within Ireland. Getting to Ireland has never been easier, with non-stop flights to Dublin, Shannon and Belfast from 12 U.S. gateways operated by Aer Lingus, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Ethiopian Airlines and United Airlines. Easy and convenient connections also exist between Ireland and Great Britain and continental Europe.
Once in Ireland, visitors have a choice of public or private transportation. Most independent travelers choose to travel by car, as it provides the greatest freedom to get off the beaten track. Rentals are available at all airports and ferry ports as well as in many towns and city centers. I advise booking in advance to secure best value. Chauffeur-driven vehicles are becoming increasingly popular with U.S. travelers. Ireland’s rail network also offers a comfortable and convenient way to move around the country, especially between Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Killarney, Galway, Sligo and Derry/Londonderry.
What’s the perfect Ireland itinerary for those experiencing Ireland for the first time? A trip to Ireland is full of authentic, unique and fun-filled experiences. First-time visitors should take in some iconic locations. First stop could be Dublin, with a visit to the Guinness Storehouse (consider the private connoisseur experience) followed by Trinity College and the famous Book of Kells and the Little Museum of Dublin. Next up, a short drive to Northern Ireland through the Boyne Valley with a stop at Newgrange before arriving in Belfast for Titanic Belfast and a city tour. Then head north along the scenic Causeway Coastal Route toward the Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage site, combined with visits to the world’s oldest whiskey distillery, Old Bushmills, and Dunluce Castle. Continue west toward Donegal and Sligo and travel along the breathtaking Wild Atlantic Way, one of the world’s longest coastal touring routes, to Galway and the cliffs of Moher, before traveling east to discover 5,000 years of history in Ireland’s Ancient East with stops in Viking Waterford, medieval Kilkenny and Powerscourt Estate and Gardens.
What can luxury travelers to Ireland expect? A wide range of 5-star properties boasts great character, quality and impeccable friendly service. Ireland is well-known for its castle hotels, manor house hotels and historic country estates as well as stylish modern urban boutique hotels, rated among Europe’s finest. Luxury travelers can also enjoy a world-class culinary experience. Ireland offers custom vacation options designed around themes like food, castles, whiskey tasting, houses and gardens, literature, art and architecture. Country pursuits include falconry, fly-fishing and horse riding. Ireland boasts the world’s top links courses such as Royal County Down, ranked No. 1 in the world; Ballybunion; and Royal Portrush, set to host the 2019 British Open.
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