Tourism Ireland today launched Ireland.com, the new international website for tourism to the island of Ireland. The site – rolling out in 30 markets around the world and in 11 different languages* – represents a complete redevelopment of Tourism Ireland’s online presence. The new site provides a brand new, one-stop shop for comprehensive information on all that the island of Ireland has to offer potential holidaymakers around the world.
Ireland.com has been redeveloped to deliver a transformed web experience for potential holidaymakers overseas. The principal changes to the site include:
a hugely enhanced experience for visitors to the site – with more than 1,700 stunning images, less crowded pages and much greater ease of navigation – prompting users to organically explore the site under different themes like location and interests;
social media connections and sharing tools are a key feature, embedded on every page, encouraging users to ‘like’ and share with all of their friends. Given that Tourism Ireland’s website attracted almost 12 million unique visitors last year, this means an estimated one billion social connections are addressable through visitors to Ireland.com;
a huge volume of original and engaging content which is very current and brings ‘new news’ about Ireland, to help fuel that social sharing and ensure more traffic to the site;
special offers and packages feature throughout the site, with the capacity to deliver more sales leads and referrals for tourism partners. This taps into the 54% of web visitors who wish to make a booking or are researching accommodation in Ireland;
the site has been specifically designed with touch-based tablets in mind (when Tourism Ireland’s previous website, discoverireland.com was launched in 2006, mainstream social media, smartphones and other tablet devices did not exist!);
Social media is already a hugely important element of Tourism Ireland’s global promotional programme. The organisation has about 1.24 million fans on Facebook around the world, making it the second most popular tourism board, after Australia, on the popular social networking site. Having such a huge fanbase is significant, because each fan has an average of over 200 friends – making Tourism Ireland just one degree of separation, or just one click away, from having its message shared through Facebook with 250 million people around the globe.
Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar said: “This new-look website will be crucial in promoting The Gathering Ireland 2013 around the world and ensuring a lasting legacy. It’s been designed to capitalise on the increasingly central role of the internet in travel and holiday planning, and the phenomenal growth of social media. Visitors from our main target markets in North America, the UK, Europe and Australasia rely heavily on technology, not just to plan and book their holidays in advance, but also while they are travelling. Ireland.com will provide the perfect starting point to start planning, and allow them to tell the world just what a great place Ireland is to visit.”
Although the site is brand new, initial feedback from users is largely positive**, indicating that it is performing well, with a solid volume of third-party referrals to tourism industry partners. Commenting on the new website, Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “Tourism Ireland’s job is to inspire people around the world to come and visit Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland and our online presence and social media activity are critical ways to communicate with potential holidaymakers everywhere.
“In building and creating our new website, we have dramatically changed our approach to content marketing and campaigns, allowing us to deliver more powerful and effective campaigns than ever before. The website is very visual, with over 1,700 images; and the social sharing tools embedded in every page will allow us to harness more effectively the phenomenal growth and popularity of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. A survey we carried out among our Facebook fans in GB and Germany shows that 60% say their perceptions of the island of Ireland have improved significantly since they ‘liked’ the Tourism Ireland pages. We know that great consumer engagement on social media can deliver a strong commercial return for businesses."
The ease of recognition and memorability of the new domain name will undoubtedly ensure greater ‘stand-out’ for the destination around the world as well as delivering savings, through reduced spend on search engine optimisation.
Further development of Ireland.com continues this spring – including the roll-out of a smartphone version of the site, improved tour operator functionality, a trip-planning tool, price and availability accommodation searches, additional language versions and new blogs in six languages.
* Ireland.com is live in six languages including English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch; and a further five – Brazilian Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Chinese and Japanese – are currently in development.
** Comments from some of our US Facebook users include:
“Oh, the new site is gorgeous! Job well done!”
“Very nice site. Love the videos. Coming to Ireland Feb. 10!”
“Very cool! I like it a lot”
“Great new website with fabulous pictures.”
“Huge lot of information, well done …”
Sarah Fitzpatrick, Brian Harte, Mark Henry and Niall Gibbons, all Tourism Ireland, at the launch of Ireland.com.
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.