The island of Ireland performed reasonably well from a tourism perspective in 2012, despite the challenging international economic environment. By the end of this year, Tourism Ireland expects that around 7.27 million people will have visited the island of Ireland from around the world, yielding around €3.51 billion in revenue.
Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “2012 has been a mixed year for overseas tourism. Certain markets have performed particularly well, including North America, which has had one of its strongest years ever; also Mainland Europe and long-haul markets like Australia. Other markets including Great Britain, our largest tourism market, have been more challenging, with a flat economy and weak consumer confidence having a significant impact on overseas travel by Britons throughout the year.”
Ambitious targets are in place for 2013, aiming to welcome 7.6 million visitors to the island of Ireland in 2013, representing growth in visitor numbers of +5% over 2012. Commenting on the year ahead, Niall Gibbons said: “As we look ahead to 2013, we are very much aware that the economic landscape presents a challenging environment for travel. However, despite the uncertainty surrounding the pace of economic recovery in our key source markets, we believe that our marketing activity around the globe in 2013 can deliver a +5% increase in visitor numbers, with North America and Mainland Europe representing significant potential. In particular, The Gathering Ireland 2013 and Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 present tremendous opportunities for us to shine a spotlight on the island of Ireland around the world.”
SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF 2012 FOR OVERSEAS TOURISM
January: ‘Jump into Ireland’ goes live to 200 million people!
Tourism Ireland kicked off 2012 with the roll-out of a brand new global advertising campaign – ‘Jump into Ireland’ – to promote the island of Ireland overseas over the next three years. The campaign went live on television in Great Britain, France and Germany; in cinemas in GB and the US, Spain and Italy; on outdoor sites in GB; and online in the other 22 markets in which Tourism Ireland has a presence, to an estimated audience of 200 million potential visitors worldwide. The soundtrack for the TV ads was taken from the latest album, Fallen Empires, of Co Down band Snow Patrol.
January: “Russian” to Ireland – Tourism Ireland targets BRIC markets
Tourism Ireland announced a new strategy to attract more high-spending visitors from the emerging BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) tourism markets. In January, Tourism Ireland and a number of Irish tourism operators travelled to Russia for a travel trade mission in Moscow and St Petersburg, in a bid to grow Ireland’s share of this emerging and fast-growing tourism market.
March: Turning the world green on St Patrick’s Day!
Niagara Falls, the London Eye, Burj Al Arab in Dubai, Coit Tower and City Hall in San Franscisco and the Leaning Tower of Pisa were just some of the iconic buildings and attractions around the world which went green this year as part of Tourism Ireland’s biggest ever global promotional programme of activities to showcase the island of Ireland on St Patrick’s Day and to kick off a major spring promotional drive to grow overseas tourism this year. The Gathering Ireland 2013 was also launched internationally by Government ministers in 27 cities over St Patrick’s weekend this year.
March: Taoiseach launches visa waiver extension in China
During a trade mission to China, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny launched a major development to help grow tourism business from China: the extension, until October 2016, of the visa waiver scheme for Chinese tourists who wish to visit Ireland. The announcement was made at a Tourism Ireland event in Beijing attended by 150 leading Chinese travel trade, media and airline representatives. The Taoiseach also signalled Ireland’s warm welcome for Chinese visitors – with the introduction of a short-stay visa for individual travellers. To date, 24 Chinese tour operators who previously only programmed Great Britain are now also promoting the island of Ireland.
March: Titanic Belfast showcased to the world as part of ni2012 promotional drive
A massive promotional drive got under way to highlight the stunning new Titanic Belfast and the city’s famous maritime story. Tourism Ireland estimates that its promotions for ni2012 reached over 100 million people during the course of 2012. The organisation’s £4+ million programme is the most extensive programme of marketing activity ever undertaken for Northern Ireland. In Great Britain alone, advertising about Northern Ireland reached 70% of the entire population, 15 times, during 2012. In the United States, over five million people saw Tourism Ireland’s ‘Jump into Northern Ireland’ ad on television, when they tuned in to watch Titanic, the new Julian Fellowes four-part series which aired on the ABC network in the New York area.
June: Tuscan town turns green for Trappatoni’s Ireland!
Montecatini, the Tuscan town where Giovanni Trapattoni and Ireland’s Euro 2012 squad spent their final weeks preparing for the Euro 2012 finals in Poland, was turned green by Tourism Ireland in June. Using a variety of material supplied by Tourism Ireland, the businesses of Montecatini dressed their windows and shop-fronts, competing to win the prize for the best green windows in town! And over beside the squad’s training ground, at the ‘Casa d’Irlanda’ centre for media and the general public, Tourism Ireland distributed brochures and information about holidays in Ireland.
As the fans headed off to support Ireland in Poland later that month, Tourism Ireland teamed up with Ryanair at Dublin Airport to deliver a ‘big green wave’ to Poland, with over 2,000 giant green hands given out to Ryanair passengers travelling to Poznań to promote Ireland during Euro 2012.
June: Royal Portrush to the ‘fore’ as global spotlight shines on Northern Ireland for the Irish Open
An estimated 425 million households around the world tuned into the Irish Open at Royal Portrush in June. Tourism Ireland rolled out a busy golf promotional programme to encourage more people to consider a golfing holiday here, which included capitalising on the success of our major golf champions as ambassadors for Northern Ireland. Tourism Ireland’s golf promotions in the US included advertising on the hugely popular Golf Channel during the US Open in San Francisco, which was viewed by an estimated 10.5 million American golf fans and featured footage of our golfing champions and golf in Northern Ireland. In the same month, Golf Digest magazine – one of the most popular and widely read sports titles in the United States – asked its 6.5 million readers to name their favourite golfing venues around the world and the island of Ireland came out with top marks. Royal County Down beat off competition from some of the game’s most iconic venues including St Andrews’ Old Course, Turnberry and Valderrama, to be named top of Golf Digest’s “100 Best Courses Outside the US”. Portmarnock came in close behind, at number 12 in the poll, just one place ahead of Royal Portrush.
August: Bollywood blockbuster set in Dublin goes on release
This highly anticipated Bollywood film Ek Tha Tiger went on release in 24 countries to a massive audience of over 100 million people in August. The romantic thriller, starring two of Bollywood’s most celebrated actors, Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif, was shot on location in Dublin. The film features spectacular dance sequences and stunts in lots of well-known locations and landmarks – including Trinity College, Temple Bar, the Ha’penny Bridge, the Millennium Bridge, Grafton Street, the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin Castle and even the Luas! Ek Tha Tiger was the biggest Bollywood blockbuster of 2012 and has become the third all-time highest-grossing Hindi movie ever.
Autumn: Getting Ready for The Gathering Ireland 2013
Tourism Ireland’s busy programme of promotional activity this autumn highlighted The Gathering Ireland 2013 around the globe. A ‘Gathering’ roadshow led by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar took in the cities of New York, Chicago, Boston and Toronto, reaching key enablers such as business networks, clans, cultural and sporting associations, Irish clubs and societies, to encourage them to participate in The Gathering. Minister Varadkar also promoted The Gathering in Australia. Up to 19 million people in GB saw Tourism Ireland’s TV ads this autumn, which included an invitation to visit for The Gathering Ireland 2013. In the United States – building on the tremendous success of the Notre Dame v Navy game in Dublin in September – Tourism Ireland ran a highly visible TV and online campaign with CBS in New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia around Notre Dame’s games, reaching about 7.5 million viewers. Radio, print and online ads also targeted 13.5 million Americans of Irish descent in Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
September: Festival focus for Tourism Ireland’s autumn campaign
Tourism Ireland launched a €19 million promotional campaign in September, aimed at boosting late-season travel to Ireland from around the globe and teeing up The Gathering Ireland 2013. The campaign highlighted the many festivals and events taking place right around the island – from the Dublin Festival Season, to the Belfast Festival at Queens (which this year celebrated the important milestone of its 50th anniversary), Wexford Festival Opera, Westport Food Festival, Cork Jazz Festival and the Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival.
October: New air routes between Ireland and the US announced
Autumn saw the announcement of a number of important new routes between Ireland and the US, which were warmly welcomed by Tourism Ireland. United announced a new service from Chicago to Shannon, to commence in June 2013; US Airways announced a new, daily flight between Philadelphia and Shannon Airport, which will commence in May 2013; and American Airlines announced a new, daily flight between JFK, New York and Dublin, to commence in June 2013. Aer Lingus will also increase capacity on routes to Dublin from Orlando, Chicago and Boston. In all, the number of airline seats from the United States to Ireland is set to grow by +20% for the summer of 2013. Tourism Ireland will continue to work closely with all carriers to maximise the promotion of, and drive demand for, all routes to the island of Ireland.
October: New strategies unveiled for Great Britain and the United States
A significant new strategy to revitalise performance in the British market, GB Path to Growth, was announced, outlining a plan to restore growth from our largest source market by identifying areas of best potential growth and recommending that future marketing and development plans be focused intensely on these. A new three-year plan was also unveiled for the US market – Make Ireland Jump Out – which will be rolled out by Tourism Ireland in the United States in 2013.
November: Tourism Ireland reaches the ‘Magic Million’ on Facebook
Tourism Ireland reached one million fans on Facebook around the world in November, making it the second most popular tourism board in the world, after Australia and Spain. Tourism Ireland has doubled its Facebook fanbase in the past twelve months – from 500,000 fans in 2011 – and from just 81,000 fans in 2010. Reaching one million Facebook fans is significant because each fan has an average of 220 friends – so Tourism Ireland is just one click away from having its message shared with 220 million people.
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.
• In 2012, an estimated 7.27 million overseas visitors came to the island of Ireland, delivering revenue of approximately €3.51 billion. Overseas tourism business accounts for 59% of all tourism revenue.
• Tourism Ireland’s international website is www.discoverireland.com; there are 42 different websites, providing information in 14 different languages covering every continent. In 2011, discoverireland.com attracted almost 12 million unique visitors.
• ‘The Gathering Ireland 2013’ will be Ireland’s biggest ever tourism initiative and will consist of a year-long programme of festivals, events and gatherings in every part of the country.
• Tourism Ireland has an extensive programme of promotions under way to highlight ‘The Gathering Ireland 2013’ around the world, working closely with the ‘Gathering’ project team.