Fight-back Begins to Restore Tourism Growth

29 Nov 2010

Tourism Ireland today launched details of its global marketing strategy and plans as the fight-back begins to restore growth in 2011.  The event was attended by Tourism Minister, Mary Hanafin T.D., and tourism industry leaders from around the island of Ireland. 

In 2011, the Ireland message will reach in excess of 200 million people around the globe.  The job of Tourism Ireland will be to convince as many of those people as possible that Ireland is still a great place for a holiday or short break.  A major priority will be the restoration of growth from the all-important Great Britain market, which accounts for 50% of all overseas visitors and 40% of revenue.  The US, Germany and France will also be the focus of a major promotional drive.  These four markets together deliver three-quarters of all overseas visitors.

Overseas tourism has a critical role to play in contributing to Ireland’s economic recovery.  Overseas tourism business accounts for 63% (over €3.1 billion) of all tourism revenue and has the capacity to deliver even more for Ireland as part of an export-led economic renewal.  Tourism is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry, contributing in excess of 4% of GNP and providing employment for over 200,000 people in every community throughout the island.

Speaking at the launch, Mary Hanafin, Minister for Tourism, Culture & Sport, said: “The Government recognises the important role that overseas tourism can play in contributing to Ireland’s economic recovery in 2011 and beyond.  Tourism Ireland sees 2011 as a turning point.  They have reviewed their marketing strategy and operations, with help from industry, to ensure that they capitalise on any opportunities out there and deliver in the very changed environment that will prevail.  They will re-emphasise the strength of the Ireland brand, to stimulate demand and help differentiate Ireland from the competition, so that overseas consumers will choose Ireland over the hundreds of other destinations out there chasing the same business.”

Tourism Ireland Chief Executive Niall Gibbons said: “The global economic downturn has led to fundamental changes in the tourism and travel industry around the globe.  Competition is fierce and the holiday choice available for people everywhere is vast, with many other tourist boards also targeting our traditional markets and customers more aggressively than ever. 

“The fight to restore growth in Britain, our most important market, will continue in 2011.  We will launch a brand new advertising campaign which will emphasise the fun of a holiday in Ireland.  The Ireland message will be highly visible throughout the twelve months of 2011 – promoting city breaks and touring holidays on TV, radio, online, as well as through publicity and social media.

“I am confident that the plan we are presenting today positions us well on the path to recovery in 2011.  The good news is that interest in visiting the island of Ireland in all our key markets remains high.  Our job in 2011 will be to remind people around the world that Ireland is a friendly and fun place to visit, and to convert that interest into actual travel.”

2010 has proven to be one of the most difficult years on record for tourism to the island of Ireland.  While it is true that many of our overseas markets exited recession during the year, economic recovery has not been matched by recovery in consumer confidence and spending and this, together with ongoing concerns about job security, unemployment and other effects of the downturn, has impacted travel to the island of Ireland.  In addition, air access to Ireland has declined significantly over the past year.  As an island destination, direct and competitive access services are absolutely vital to the future growth of our tourism industry.  However, despite the many difficulties, by the end of 2010, Tourism Ireland anticipates that 6.8 million people will have visited the island of Ireland from overseas, generating over €3.1 billion in revenue. 

Tourism Ireland has undertaken a comprehensive review of its marketing strategy in preparation for 2011.  The key elements of its strategy to return overseas tourism to growth in 2011 include:

• Focus on Four Key Markets
In 2011, Tourism Ireland will concentrate on the top four markets which deliver three-quarters of our visitors – Great Britain, the United States, Germany and France.  We will continue to promote in markets like Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, the Nordic region, Canada, Australia, India and China – but with a reduced level of investment.

• New Advertising Campaign in Britain
Tourism Ireland will launch a new advertising campaign in Great Britain in March, which will give Ireland ‘stand-out’ from its competitors there, including domestic destinations like Scotland, Wales and the regions of England.  In addition, Tourism Ireland will be prominent in the GB market right throughout the year – through activity on TV, radio, online, social media and through publicity.

• Restore and Enhance Air Access
Restoring and enhancing air services to the island of Ireland will be a major focus for Tourism Ireland in 2011.  Investment in co-operative promotional campaigns with air and sea carriers will help drive demand for important routes; in addition, case-making with airports and airlines will support the restoration of lost services and the development of new direct, and indirect, services.

 Focus on the Diaspora and St Patrick
Over 70 million people worldwide claim Irish ancestry.  Tourism Ireland will stimulate and exploit this interest in 2011 in major markets – including the US, GB and Australia – to capitalise on the recent availability of online census records.  Tourism Ireland will also launch another innovative global St Patrick’s promotion to capture the attention of potential holidaymakers, media and travel trade around the world as part of an intensive spring marketing campaign.

• Overseas Publicity Programme - Coverage Worth €200M+
Tourism Ireland will mount a major publicity push throughout 2011 across all its markets, including the top four.  Print, broadcast and online media will be targeted with positive tourism stories.  Up to 1,500 travel and lifestyle writers from top titles will be invited to visit the island of Ireland, to write or broadcast about it on their return home.  Tourism Ireland’s global publicity programme generated positive coverage worth an estimated €230 million in equivalent advertising values last year.  This will be stepped up for 2011.

 Strengthen Online Marketing
Significant investment in online marketing will strengthen Ireland’s online presence; social media offers new ways to engage potential holidaymakers around the world and spread positive word-of-mouth about the holiday experience here.  More than 135,000 Facebook fans around the globe are following Tourism Ireland to learn more about the island of Ireland.  Tourism Ireland also has Twitter accounts in eight countries, with over 15,000 followers at the last count.

• Golf
Tourism Ireland will capitalise on the excellent publicity overseas surrounding Ireland’s top golfers like Pádraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and others; and on the announcement last week of North & West Coast Links Golf (N&WCLG) as ‘European Golf Destination of the Year 2011’ (voted by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators).  N&WCLG is a golf marketing organisation which represents 12 of the island’s finest golf courses (Connemara Championship Links, Carne Golf Links, Enniscrone Golf Club, Co Sligo Golf Club, Donegal Golf Club, Narin & Portnoo Golf Club, Rosapenna Golf Resort, Portsalon Golf Club, Ballyliffin Golf Club, Portstewart Golf Club, Royal Portrush Golf Club and Ardglass Golf Club).

• Leverage a Strong Tourism Image of Ireland
A strong positive brand image will help Ireland stand out overseas against the competition, so that people will choose Ireland over the hundreds of other destinations actively chasing the same business.  Tourism Ireland will highlight ‘stand-out’ holiday experiences here, the interaction with our people and our humour; and will reinforce the attractiveness of the island’s natural beauty, its people and culture. 

- ENDS -


For further information, contact:
Sinéad Grace, Media & PR Manager, Tourism Ireland
Tel: 087-685 9027

Note to Editors:
 Tourism Ireland is the organisation responsible for promoting the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination.
• Tourism is the island of Ireland’s largest indigenous industry; responsible for in excess of 4% of GNP in the Republic of Ireland and employing approximately 200,000 people.
• 7.6 million overseas visitors came to the island of Ireland in 2009, delivering revenue of €3.46 billion. 
• Tourism Ireland’s international website is; there are 42 different websites, providing information in 20 different languages covering every continent.  In 2009 attracted a record 13+ million unique visitors, a +34% increase in visits on 2008.



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