Minister Varadkar announces €9M winter marketing boost for Irish tourism

14 Oct 2011

A €9 million tourism marketing blitz involving significant matching private sector funding to boost visitor numbers to Ireland has been announced today (Friday) by Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar.

Tourism Ireland’s funding for the campaigns is supported by revenues from the air travel tax, while matching funding is being provided by partner companies including Ryanair, Aer Lingus and Aer Arann, overseas airlines including Emirates, Etihad, US Airways, online travel agents, Irish Ferries, Stena and other ferry companies.

A series of joint co-operative marketing campaigns between Tourism Ireland and private operators will promote Ireland to around 20 million potential overseas visitors over the coming months. The ‘Home of Champions’ campaign will also be extended to promote golfing holidays in Ireland, on the back of Irish major golf winners.

Minister Varadkar said these measures will build on the Jobs Initiative launched earlier this year, which focused on job creation in tourism. The campaigns aim to increase visitor numbers before the end of the year, and also prepare the ground for the proposed year-long tourism initiative in 2013, The Gathering, showcased at the Global Irish Economic Forum.

The key partners include the following: Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Aer Arann, Emirates, Etihad, FlyBE, Jet2, Virgin Atlantic, Norwegian Airlines, Cheapflights, Irish Ferries, Stena Line, Celtic Link, Thomas Cook India, Cox & Kings, GZL China, Aer China Travel Beijing, Beijing UTour, Expedia, Travelocity, Opodo, eDreams, HostelBookers,, Cheapflights and Rumbo, the Irish Tour Operators Association, SuperBreaks (UK), Gaeltacht Irland Reisen (Germany), Sceptre Tours/GCS (US), among others.

“This is a great example of joined-up thinking by Government. Marketing campaigns like these are key to boosting Ireland’s visitor numbers. These additional campaigns will reach a huge potential worldwide audience of at least 20 million. I’m particularly pleased that we can channel some of the ongoing travel tax revenue back into tourism measures, use it to leverage matching funding from the private sector, and have a tangible effect on jobs and growth,” Minister Varadkar said.

“Ireland’s tourism industry is now showing signs of recovery, with overseas visitor numbers rising by almost 12% in the first seven months of this year. I hope that measures like this will see visitor numbers continue to rise further for the rest of this year and next, and in the run-up to The Gathering in 2013.”

Tourism Ireland Director of Corporate Services and Policy Shane Clarke said: ‘This is an exciting time for the Irish tourism industry. We are looking forward to working with our industry partners to help grow overseas tourism business. In particular, we look forward to maximising the number of visitors we can attract over the typically quieter winter months’.

                                                                                                                         Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar at the announcement of a €9 million winter campaign to boost Irish tourism with Gillian Moore, Ryanair; Shane Clarke, Tourism Ireland’s Director of Corporate Services; and Erika Kelly, Aer Lingus.


Note for Editors
Minister Varadkar announced a decision to retain the air travel tax earlier this year until satisfactory agreement is reached with airlines on new routes and passenger numbers. In the meantime, the Minister secured Government agreement to allocate a portion of the travel tax revenue to tourism marketing initiatives. These marketing campaigns will be overseen by Tourism Ireland, with matching funding from partner companies as follows:

Details of the co-operative tourism campaigns around the globe:
• Co-operative promotions with Ryanair will highlight attractive fares to Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Kerry and Knock from Great Britain and Mainland Europe.  Ads will run in major national and regional newspapers in GB, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the Nordic region, with a combined circulation of over 10 million readers.  Radio ads in Great Britain, Spain and the Nordic region will reach millions more potential visitors; and attractive airfares and messages about Ireland will be sent to the Ryanair database of over 2 million travellers.

• The promotional campaign with Aer Lingus will run in Great Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands.  In GB, activity includes print and radio ads promoting Aer Lingus routes from London, Manchester and Birmingham to Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Knock.  Ads will also run in regional titles, in line with Tourism Ireland’s region-to-region approach to capitalise on the access links between specific areas of GB and the regions in Ireland.  In Germany, print ads in key national and regional newspapers, as well as radio ads, will help drive demand for flights from Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart to Dublin and Cork Airports.  In France, print and radio ads will highlight routes from Paris and Lyon to Dublin and Cork.  Press campaigns in Spain and Italy will promote routes to Dublin and Cork from Milan, Rome, Madrid and Barcelona; and print and radio ads will also run in the Netherlands.

• Ireland will have a strong presence on most of the leading travel websites and OTAs (online travel agents) around Europe over the winter period – including on Expedia, Travelocity, Opodo, eDreams, HostelBookers,, Cheapflights and Rumbo.  The Expedia campaign alone will run for eight weeks and will include prominent exposure for Ireland on the homepages of both Expedia and in Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Norway and Sweden, as well as online and print advertising and email marketing.

• A ‘season extension’ initiative in the all-important US market is designed to drive business over the winter period and will reach about 18 million consumers.  This campaign will run in the five gateway cities offering flights over the winter period to Dublin and/or Shannon i.e. New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta.  A two-week radio campaign will promote Ireland’s west coast and routes to Shannon Airport.

• An extensive campaign will also be rolled out in Asia and Australia, highlighting the new Emirates route from Dubai to Dublin from January 2012, as well as the Irish Government’s Visa Waiver Scheme which makes it very easy for visitors from emerging tourism markets to visit Ireland.  Co-op campaigns with Emirates and Etihad will run in Australia, South Africa, the Gulf States, Japan, China and India; and with Virgin Atlantic in Japan.  Campaigns will also be undertaken with tour operators like Thomas Cook India, Cox & Kings, GZL China and Beijing UTour. 

• A campaign with the Irish Tour Operators Association (ITOA) will also help boost the shoulder season promotional effort.  Activity includes an extended programme of sales calls by Irish incoming tour operators in overseas markets; as well as an increased number of overseas tour operators coming to Ireland for the first time ever over the coming months, encouraging them to include Ireland in their 2012 programmes.

• Other campaigns in Britain will include promotions with FlyBE, highlighting routes to Ireland West Airport Knock, and with Jet2, highlighting their Newcastle to Cork route; these promotions will include email marketing to the airlines’ databases of travellers as well as print advertising.

• Campaigns with ferry operators in Britain – including Irish Ferries, Stena Line, and Celtic Link – have been designed to attract additional business over the upcoming mid-term break and kicked off in September.  These include TV, press and radio ads, as well as Ireland promotions on ferries to Mainland Europe.

• A number of initiatives will also be undertaken with various overseas tour operators.  For example, a major city breaks campaign in Britain, with SuperBreaks (leading British short break specialist), will highlight Cork and Dublin as fantastic city break destinations.  This campaign will give Ireland a strong presence during October and November in about 90% of travel agencies around GB and will include email marketing about Cork and Dublin to a database of 655,000 previous travellers to other European cities.  As an added incentive, a £10 discount card for all bookings to Dublin and Cork will be included in this email marketing. In Germany, Gaeltacht Irland Reisen will highlight holidays to Ireland at various Ireland events between October and December, likely to be attended by almost 160,000 Ireland enthusiasts, with special offers on visits to Ireland. A campaign with leading American tour operator Sceptre Tours/GCS will include special offers in email marketing to subscribers of TravelZoo, Kayak and Sherman’s Travel, with a combined circulation of 19 million.



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