Tourism Ireland Steps Up United States Marketing Drive to Capitalise on Presidential Visit

20 May 2011

Tourism Ireland’s marketing drive in the United States was stepped up considerably this week as Ireland prepares to welcome President Barack Obama on 23rd May.  Hundreds of international journalists have already been accredited as part of the visit, which is expected to generate huge positive publicity in the US over the coming days. Millions of Americans will receive positive messages about the island of Ireland in the coming days. Tourism Ireland is focused on leveraging the visit to persuade potential visitors from the US, our second largest tourism market, to visit the island of Ireland.

The marketing strategy used by Tourism Ireland in the US differs from the approach taken in Britain to capitalise on the visit of Queen Elizabeth II, where the focus was on cultural, literary, equestrian, gastronomic and sporting themes. To celebrate President Obama’s Irish ancestry, genealogy has been selected as a key theme of the marketing push in the United States.  Highlights of the activity include:

  • A media news release has been issued to 2,000 broadcast and online media, with video footage embedded featuring an interview with genealogist Fiona Fitzsimmon who has researched President Obama’s ancestral heritage in Moneygall and Moneygall locals including the President’s distant cousin Henry Healy and Rector Stephen Neill;
  • Interviews with other Ireland-based genealogists and historians, such as Helen Moss and Turtle Bunberry (host of RTÉ 1’s The Genealogy Roadshow), have also been made available to US radio stations;
  • A ‘hero spot’ on in the US highlights the presidential itinerary and features strong tourism messages of genealogy and US presidential ancestral links to Ireland, as well as heritage and literary Dublin;
  • Social media activity includes a competition on Tourism Ireland’s US Facebook page which has over 120,000 US fans, to name ‘those US presidents with Irish ancestry’.  Additional presidential-themed wall posts have been increased over the past week;
  • Tourism Ireland’s presidential factsheet, covering previous visits by US Presidents as well the ancestral links to Ireland of 20 US presidents, has been distributed to a wide selection of media contacts throughout the US;
  • Online ads targeting the Irish diaspora are running on key websites including  Full-page ads in Irish-related publications such as Irish Echo and Irish America will be supported by advertorials with literary and genealogy themes. 
  • A special, four-page cover wrap on AM New York on 23rd May, the mark the day President Obama arrives here.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “This has been an excellent month for Irish tourism with the announcement by the government of a package of measures to stimulate the tourism sector and now culminating in the second of our two historic visits with President Obama’s arrival on Monday. The United States is a tremendously important market for us, second only to Britain in terms of delivering visitor numbers. Our focus is on maximising the potential of this unique occasion and on promoting Ireland as a wonderful holiday destination to the millions of Americans who will come into contact with Ireland in the coming days and weeks.”

North America is the second-largest market for tourists to Ireland, delivering around 900,000 visitors who spend over €600 million each year. Tourism Ireland statistics towards the end of 2010 showed evidence of a potential return to growth in visitor numbers from the US this year.


For further information:
Sinéad Grace, Tourism Ireland
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.
• Approximately 6.9 million overseas visitors came to the island of Ireland in 2010, delivering revenue of approximately €3 billion.  Overseas tourism business accounts for 59% of all tourism revenue.
• Tourism Ireland’s international website is; there are 42 different websites, providing information in 14 different languages covering every continent.  In 2010 attracted almost 12 million unique visitors.


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