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Top travel bloggers aim to get Ireland on trend

Travel blogger Austin Matta enjoys his trip to Kilkenny's Medieval Mile

There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.

So said — or rather tweeted — Mela Mortenback from Austria, one of the 600 travel bloggers huddled in a Dublin hotel yesterday, stoically upbeat despite being under siege by three days of the heaviest rain seen in the city this year.

Delegates to the huge event couldn’t have picked a worse time, weather-wise, to see the sights, yet John Concannon, marketing director with Fáilte Ireland, which is hosting the international gathering, insisted the grey skies didn’t place a single cloud over the proceedings.

"What we’ve done is had 100 experiences lined up over the last number of days, here in Dublin but also around the country, so we’ve had people indoors and outdoors doing different kinds of activities," said Mr Concannon.

"We’ve had plenty of outdoors experiences — kayaking, kite-surfing, we even got a group out to Achill. They’ve been having a really good time."

Fáilte Ireland hopes this is what they’ll convey when they recount their experiences on their blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and in Instagram photos when they get back to their hotel rooms.

The event is staged annually in different countries by TBEX, the Travel Bloggers Exchange, which is used by the world’s top travel bloggers to network, brush up on their technical skills, and see new parts of the world.

Mr Concannon said Fáilte Ireland pitched to host it this year in recognition of the growing influence social media has on where tourists choose to holiday.

"Up to now when we talked about social media, the emphasis was on us having a great website but the average tourist who uses social media will check out 22 sources before making a decision, so it’s not just what’s on our website that counts but what’s said about Ireland on travel blogs and other outlets," said Mr Concannon.

Predictions are that there will be 20,000 references to the event and the related activities this week and 100m impressions in the longer run.

The conference, which continues today, has also enabled 50 Irish tourism operators to meet bloggers and understand how best they can use social media to promote their products.