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Key Focus On Shannon Airport During US Tourism Promotion

A tourism delegation from County Clare will attend the world’s largest Irish cultural festival this week to encourage the US market to travel directly into the West of Ireland via Shannon Airport.

The recent resumption of daily direct flights between Shannon and Chicago O’Hare International, bringing to four the number of US destinations served by the Clare airport, will be at forefront of the County’s tourism showcase at the Milwaukee Irish Fest in Wisconsin.

The Clare delegation is being led by Clare County Council and members of the Clare Tourism Advisory Forum and will spearhead the promotion of the Banner County as a desirable visitor destination to over 120,000 festival goers.

Covering 74 acres of Lake Michigan’s shoreline the event showcases Irish music, history, dance, sports and culture, the annual festival also is attended by tourism agencies such as Tourism Ireland and Aer Lingus.

“Many US tourists fly into Dublin Airport before realising that there is an international airport on Ireland’s west coast,” stated Cllr. Joe Cooney, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council. “This represents a massive lost opportunity for the tourism sector in this region and our primary goal over the coming week is to get people to ‘Fly Shannon’ and to promote the airport as a gateway to the West of Ireland.”

“Thousands of US tourists have booked flights into Shannon Airport because of the Clare tourism delegation’s presence at Milwaukee Irish Fest down through the years. The expansion of Shannon Airport’s transatlantic routes offers new potential to grow the number of tourists from the Midwest and Northeast Regions of the United States,” added the Cathaoirleach.


Members of the tourism delegation from County Clare that has travelled to the Milwaukee Irish Fest in Wisconsin – the world’s largest Irish cultural festival – to encourage the US market to travel directly into the West of Ireland via Shannon Airport. Photograph by Eamon Ward.

Leonard Cleary, Director of Tourism Development with Clare County Council, said tourism operators in the West of Ireland cannot afford to be complacent about the transatlantic services on offer at Shannon and must continue to take a leading role in driving holiday bookings through the airport.

He continued, “This week’s Milwaukee promotion complements the recent launch by Tourism Ireland of a marketing campaign to highlight direct flights from the United States to Shannon Airport. This initiative has been widely welcomed by the local tourism sector as it is an acknowledgement that Ireland cannot continue to push all incoming visitors through Dublin Airport. Shannon is a gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way and, therefore, it is important Clare County Council and the local sector also play their role in encouraging US tourists to ‘Fly Shannon’.”

According to Seán Lally, Chair of the Clare Tourism Advisory Forum, “The resumption of direct flights to Chicago comes on foot of significant lobbying by the local tourism sector based on our presence at last year’s Milwaukee Irish Fest where we encountered significant demand amongst festival goers for such a service.”

“Shannon Airport recorded 240,000 passengers on its services to New York (JFK), Boston and Newark during 2022, and it is hoped that this figure will increase further during 2023 due to the reintroduction of daily non-stop flights to Chicago in May,” stated Mr. Lally. “The local tourism sector has an important role to play in growing these figures and we look forward to showcasing Shannon and County Clare, including our rich heritage and culture, to prospective American visitors over the coming days.”

Joan Tarmey, Tourism Officer with Clare County Council, said the upcoming promotion brings representatives of Clare’s business, tourism and Local Government sectors together to proactively market County Clare and Shannon Airport to a key market.

“Every part of the County to include Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands in East Clare as well as the Wild Atlantic Way will be showcased at Milwaukee Irish Fest with newly developed promotional materials for local attractions being distributed at the Visit Clare stand located within the Irish Destinations section of the festival site,” she explained. “With the Ryder Cup 2027 in Adare on the horizon, the wider Mid-West tourism sector must continue to avail of international marketing opportunities to promote the Region as a vibrant destination with a strong ‘fly Shannon’ message throughout.”

The 2023 Milwaukee Irish Fest gets under way this Thursday (17 August) and continues through Sunday. Included in this year’s music line-up is a string of well-known Irish artists including The Coronas, Hermitage Green, Eileen Ivers, Derek Warfield and Gaelic Storm.

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