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Memorable Irish cocktailAustralia toasted St Patrick’s Day on Sunday with Guinness, parades, dances and picnics throughout the country – but Tourism Ireland got in first, hosting travel industry supporters at a delightful Irish evening last week at Pony Dining in Sydney’s historic Rocks precinct.

Sofia Hansson, Regional Manager for Australia and New Zealand, provided vital updates on Tourism Ireland’s 2023 highlights and outlined treats in store for the rest of 2024.

Tourism Ireland team based in Sydney (from left to right) - Marty Ferron, Aoife Costello, Viktoria Albrecht, Sofia Hansson

The Tourism Ireland team based in Sydney (from left to right): Marty Ferron, Aoife Costello, Viktoria Albrecht, and Sofia Hansson.

Pony’s Head Chef, Neil Nolan, who hails from Ireland, was on hand to celebrate all things Irish. What does he miss about his home country? “My Mams brown bread—and flying into Dublin; as you hit the coast, you see all of the greenery, and then you know you’re home; you just can’t beat it.”

His Excellency Tim Mawe, Ambassador of Ireland to Australia, urged the travel industry audience to promote Ireland: “Sell early and sell hard – to a kind crowd!”

Mawe mentioned Aussie actor and comedian John Doyle, who, on a recent visit to Ireland, “was amazed at how Australian everyone looked”. There is a good reason for this – Australia is one of the world’s most Irish countries in terms of heritage.

Tourism Ireland had a busy and successful 2023 with the launch of its ‘What Fills your Heart with Ireland’ global campaign, which has seen 1.3 billion impressions globally. Collaboration across publicity and trade engagements was at the forefront. The advocacy-led campaign celebrates how the island of Ireland fills the hearts of visitors and locals. It encourages potential holidaymakers to come and experience those for themselves.

Hansson said strengthening partnerships remained a key priority for Tourism Ireland.

Neil Nolan, Pony Dining Head Chef.

Neil Nolan, Pony Dining Head Chef.

The ‘What Fills Your Heart with Ireland’ campaign will continue into 2024. It aims to increase the value of overseas tourism to the island of Ireland and sustainably support economies, communities, and the environment.

Tourism Ireland will continue to inspire visitors by promoting the different regions of Ireland –  including off-the-beaten-track locations – while highlighting that Ireland is a ‘year-round’ destination, attractive throughout all seasons.

Throughout the rest of 2024, Tourism Ireland will continue strengthening critical relationships within the travel industry, fostering collaboration through cooperative campaigns, media partnerships, and TV broadcasts.

It will round the year up with a four-city sales mission in November.

At the St Patrick’s Day celebration in Sydney last Thursday,  guests were entertained in true Irish fashion with live music and the creations of Irish chef Neil Nolan, who curated a selection of canapés with an Irish twist.

Neil spoke of his journey as a chef from Ireland to Australia and the progression of the culinary scene on the island of Ireland, including the prominence of the farm-to-fork movement.

In wishing all of its travel industry partners a Happy St Patrick’s Day, Tourism Ireland said it looked forward to working with the Australian travel and tourism industry in 2024 to continue to promote the beauty of the island of Ireland and have even more people discover ‘What Fills their Heart’ with Ireland.



Written by: Peter Needham