AAACCVB Spearheads Tourism Development Mission to Ireland

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Under the leadership of Chairman of the Board Anthony Clarke, the Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau (AAACCVB) is spearheading a June 19-24 tourism development mission to Wexford, Ireland.

St. Patricks Day in Annapolis, Maryland.

The June trip by an AAACCVB-arranged delegation marks the first step in what the organization envisions as an ongoing effort to encourage Irish travelers to visit Maryland’s capital city.

Under the leadership of Chairman of the Board Anthony Clarke, the Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau (AAACCVB) is spearheading a June 19-24 tourism development mission to Wexford, Ireland. Since first being introduced to Wexford, Mayor Jim Allen, following his meeting with Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen in Annapolis in March, Clarke has been exploring the possibility of a cultural, arts, tourism, and heritage exchange with the Irish town. The June trip by an AAACCVB-arranged delegation marks the first step in what the organization envisions as an ongoing effort to encourage Irish travelers to visit Maryland’s capital city and the surrounding region. In 2011, 17,000 Irish residents visited the United States’ Capital Region which includes Maryland, DC, and Virginia.    

Clarke says timing the trip to coincide with the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s visit to New Ross, Ireland near Wexford and the June 20-23 John Barry Maritime Festival celebrating the Wexford-born naval hero will help the delegation to garner additional international awareness for Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay. President George Washington personally presented John Barry with Commission #1 in the newly formed U.S. Navy in 1794, and the U.S. Naval Academy recently erected a John Barry Memorial near gate 1 of the Naval Academy. Wexford’s John Barry Maritime Festival is one of the largest events featured in Ireland’s heavily advertised “Gatherings” promotion that invites Irish people living abroad to return to Ireland to celebrate their heritage.

As Clarke sees it, “The fact that so many Irish eyes will be focused on the 58th annual Maritime Festival presents us with an excellent opportunity to capitalize on the John Barry connection and invite all of Ireland to visit Annapolis.” The John Barry association combined with the heightened awareness the U.S. Naval Academy vs. Notre Dame football game in Dublin last fall garnered for Annapolis makes the visit a timely one. While in Ireland, Clarke, AAACCVB President and CEO Connie Del Signore, and Cohen plan to share the Annapolis story via newspaper and radio interviews. In addition to meeting with local stations, the delegation is scheduled for an interview with Ireland’s National Television and Radio Broadcaster, RTE.

Clarke calls the collaboration between Annapolis and Wexford a natural fit. “There are many commonalities between us. The fact that both Annapolis and Wexford have Plein Air arts, orchestral, and operatic events helps provide the foundation for Irish Tourism to Annapolis. Ireland’s international Plein Air and Opera Festivals could serve as training grounds for how Annapolis could best expand its cultural festivals and fine arts offerings.”

AAACCVB President and CEO Connie Del Signore says one way to begin promoting the Wexford/Annapolis connection would be to designate March as Irish Heritage Month in Annapolis. “Wexford Mayor Jim Allen is already planning to participate in Annapolis’s 2014 St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Perhaps more Irish films could be added to the Annapolis Film Festival in 2014. Annapolis has several Irish-themed restaurants and stores, and one of Maryland’s Declaration of Independence signers, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, is of Irish decent. These ingredients could serve as the foundation for a growing Irish Heritage Month.”

Joining Clarke, Cohen, and Del Signore as part of the Annapolis delegation is Louis Zagarino, who will represent BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. He is paying his own way. The AAACCVB is covering air fare for Clarke, Cohen, and Del Signore. The town of Wexford is providing complimentary meals and accommodations.

The Annapolis delegation’s visit to Ireland coincides with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s June 19-20 trade mission to Dublin.

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Susan Steckman
AAACCVB
410-280-0445 103
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Chelsea Bridges
AAACCVB
410-280-0445 116
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