Minister bids to lure Japanese golfers to Ireland

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern travels to Japan this week in a bid to lure golfers to Ireland in the wake of the Ryder Cup in September.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern travels to Japan this week in a bid to lure golfers to Ireland in the wake of the Ryder Cup in September.

The Louth TD will also lobby political and business leaders to open up direct flights between the two nations to promote trade.

More than 30,000 Japanese tourists visit Ireland every year but the Government aims to tap into the lucrative Japanese golf market in the aftermath of the Ryder Cup tournament at the K Club in Co Kildare.

A spokesman for Mr Ahern said: “The minister will be the raising the issue of increased tourism, particularly in the context of an expected increase in golf holidays to Ireland after the Ryder Cup.

“Direct air links would allow for greater economic development and investment in both directions, and would pave the way for Ireland to tap into the large golf market in Japan.”

One of the top three sporting events in the world, it is anticipated that the Ryder Cup will be beamed to one billion TV viewers in 150 countries worldwide.

Failte Ireland has been allocated extra funding to maximise the tourism spin-off of the tournament.

Mr Ahern will also pay a two-day visit to China on Thursday and Friday where he will discuss the Ireland-Asia Strategy with business leaders in Beijing.

While in Japan, Mr Ahern will meet with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso as well as senior Irish business figures in Tokyo on Tuesday.

He will also address the Japan Ireland Economic Association (JIEA) which has recently been relaunched by the Irish Embassy in Tokyo as a business networking body for the Irish and Japanese business communities.

Enterprise Ireland currently has an office in Tokyo which promotes indigenous Irish exports in niche market sectors in Japan.

The Louth TD will also hold meetings with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Japan is the second-largest economy in the world after USA and is Ireland’s ninth-largest trading partner.

Closer ties are being developed in the ICT sector as well as biotechnology and functional foods.

Total trade between Ireland and Japan in 2005 was €4.4bn.

There are currently 24 Irish companies operating in Japan while 32 Japanese firms are based in Ireland.

Mr Ahern met representatives of Japan’s overseas trade and investment body, Jetro in Ireland last week.

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