Sacré Bleu! Tourism Ireland Looks to French Connection to Drive Visitor Numbers

03 Jan 2012

Tourism Ireland has unveiled an ambitious new strategic plan for France, Ireland’s fourth largest overseas tourism market. The plan aims to increase the number of French holidaymakers by almost +40% by 2014 (from 2010). It follows Tourism Ireland’s extensive review of the French market earlier this year. While the island of Ireland holds strong appeal in the French market – with 344,000 French visitors coming here in 2010, delivering €177 million in revenue – Tourism Ireland plans to deliver even stronger growth over the next three years. 

The review has identified the consumer segments with the strongest potential for growth. These include ‘young active sightseers’, ‘young city breaker culture seekers’, ‘mid-age sightseers’, repeat visitors and Northern Ireland visitors. The new strategy has been designed to appeal to the identified segments and will ensure that the island of Ireland is portrayed as ‘une destination à la mode’ (a fashionable destination) and that campaigns generate really positive word of mouth and strong growth. 

Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar said: “France is a priority tourism market for Ireland, and it’s great to see this new research showing that we can increase the number of French holidaymakers by up to 40% by 2014. The recent tourism figures showed an increase of almost 10% in visitors from mainland Europe this year, and we are determined to build on this growth in 2012. France is one of the four tourism markets which together deliver 75% of all our overseas visitors.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Increasing holidaymakers from France by almost 40% by 2014 (from 2010) is an ambitious goal but we are building on a strong base – France is currently our fourth largest market. French holidaymakers are younger than average and it is now easier than ever to get to the island of Ireland from all regions of France. More than half of all our French visitors stay in Ireland for one to two weeks, generating revenue of €177 million per year. Tourism Ireland is excited about seeking new opportunities to expand. This new strategy will create a sense of urgency, to inspire French holidaymakers to ‘visit now’. Partnership will be the key to success and we look forward to working closely with our industry partners from around the island of Ireland in achieving our goals.”

To attract more of the ‘young active sightseers and culture seekers’, Tourism Ireland will work with popular brands in France like North Face, Oxbow and Decathlon, to place the spotlight on our outdoor activities and make them desirable among the young and active.

A new ‘Discover Yourself’ app, designed to appeal to the ‘mid-age sightseers’, will allow people to find out more about the many activities available here, which offer exciting and unexpected alternatives to what they do in their everyday lives. Users will fill in a questionnaire online helping them devise an itinerary full of activities which are personalised to their individual needs. The app will offer a range of attractive options and users will also be able to choose from a range of unique ‘discover yourself’ options for more unusual or unexpected things to do. 

Promotions targeting ‘young city breakers’ on popular websites and social media will showcase the fun, energy and vibrancy of our cities – without distancing ourselves from other iconic images of landscapes and friendly pubs. 

Tourism Ireland currently has a blog for the French market, which regularly showcases the sights, sounds and flavours that the island of Ireland has to offer ( and the Tourism Ireland Facebook page in France currently has more than 26,500 fans. 


Further media information:
Sinéad Grace, Tourism Ireland    
Tel:  087-685 9027    

Notes 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 6.7 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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