Dublin, 26 November 2008: Tourism Ireland today launched details of its €47 million marketing strategy and plans to promote the island of Ireland overseas in 2009, at an event attended by Minister for Arts Sport & Tourism, Martin Cullen TD, and tourism industry leaders. Details of a new three-year global advertising campaign ‘Go Where Ireland Takes You’ were also previewed at the event. This new campaign, which will launch early next year overseas, will include TV, press and online advertising and will have an estimated annual audience of 200 million potential visitors worldwide. The new press ads have been created through a technique using computer-generated imagery, to create novel infinity maps, which is a first for a tourism agency worldwide. These maps show multiple images or “icons” from around the island of Ireland offering the potential visitor many compelling reasons to visit.
Martin Cullen TD, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism said: “Ireland really does have a unique offering – one rooted in its sense of place and its people. If we package, promote and deliver it to best effect, we can win business in 2009. The Government, in the recent budget, consolidated its commitment to tourism by allocating just over €160 million in 2009, and €47 million will be spent on the marketing strategy we are launching today. This reflects the priority that the Government is giving to Irish tourism and to North-South co-operation. It will mean that Tourism Ireland will be out there, marketing and actively working with the industry on programmes to win business now. Experience has shown that maintaining marketing spend in difficult times can position Ireland for a faster recovery.”
Following years of strong growth, the rapid and sustained downturn in the global economy has impacted on revenue and visitor performance for 2008, particularly during the second half of the year. The expected outturn for 2008 represents a
-3% decline in visitor numbers to 8.8 million and a -4% decline in revenue to €4.2 billion over 2007. While the topline numbers are not as bad as they may have been, given the depth of the problems with global economies, the actual impact on many tourism enterprises is likely to be deeper.
Paul O’Toole, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “2008 has presented us with some of the most challenging trading conditions in years. We expect the outturn for 2008 to be lower than 2007 but slightly ahead of the 2006 performance due to the weak and unstable economic conditions in most of our source markets.”
Commenting on the year ahead, Paul O’Toole said that “all indicators point to a more difficult year in 2009 due to the general weakening in global economies. While the outlook may appear tough, it is important to recognise that many people around the world will still want to take holidays. We will be working to ensure that the island of Ireland gets its fair share of that business. Irish tourism has always punched above its weight when faced with major challenges in the past”.
Tourism Ireland’s Focus in 2009
Tourism Ireland is already promoting aggressively for 2009. Publicity worth an estimated advertising equivalent value of €86 million has been stock-piled in top national, lifestyle and general interest publications in major markets across the world this autumn, for roll-out in 2009. Similarly, 1,200 top travel trade representatives have visited the island of Ireland in 2008. Kick-start campaigns are under way in Great Britain and other major markets to boost off-season travel in the early months of 2009. Initiatives with leading tour operators are bringing especially good value accommodation and travel packages to consumers, group, coach and special interest operators in Great Britain and Europe for 2009. Here, Tourism Ireland is working with the Irish Tour Operators Association and with market operators to help provide additional business in the off-peak months of next year.
Tourism Ireland will focus on winning market share in all core markets of North America, Britain and Europe, as well as new and developing markets including China and India. “We have put a huge amount of research into refining our best prospect opportunities within these key markets and within our target consumer segments in each market so as to ensure we get best return from our marketing investment,” said Paul O’Toole.
Critical to Ireland’s overseas tourism performance in 2009 will be the level of air and sea access into the island of Ireland. Fluctuating oil costs, credit crunch and weakening consumer confidence have combined to put severe pressure on access already in 2008 and it is anticipated that overall, airlines will further reduce access services, at least in the early part of next year. As a response, Tourism Ireland is increasing its level of investment in co-operative marketing programmes with carriers and others, to help sustain demand for strategically important routes by both air and sea.
A continuing priority also for Tourism Ireland in 2009 will be to help drive tourism business to the Regions and Northern Ireland, which remains one of the most pressing issues for the industry. As well as core marketing activities of the regions, Tourism Ireland, in co-operation with Fáilte Ireland, Shannon Development and Dublin Tourism, will continue to implement specific ‘Super Region’ campaigns in 2009 promoting the West, Lakelands and the East Coast. In addition, ‘Discover Ireland’s Wonderful West’, a special €3 million marketing campaign designed to boost business to the Shannon Airport Catchment Area post Open Skies, will also continue in 2009.
Key Campaign Messages
Paul O’Toole, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, said that Ireland as a destination continued to enjoy an extremely positive image but that research had shown the need to animate the ‘the character and characters’ of the island of Ireland, in order to stand out from other destinations. The new global advertising campaign, ‘Go Where Ireland Takes You’, is designed to convey a sense of fun and spontaneity and instil the message – there is more to Ireland than just what can be found in a guidebook – some of the most wonderful things can only be stumbled on by chance!
The print campaign consists of five novel infinity maps, using computer-generated imagery based on real photography. The maps play with the reader’s sense of perspective and convey texture, depth, topography; they depict ‘assets’ or icons such as landmarks, iconic attractions, castles, activities and scenery, combining historic, cultural and more contemporary aspects of the island of Ireland holiday experience. The five maps illustrate routes from Cork to Wexford (icons include the Cork Jazz Festival, Cork’s English Market, Garnish Island, the Rock of Cashel, Kilkenny Castle, Tramore Beach, Dunmore East, Mount Usher Gardens and the Wexford Opera Festival); Shannon to Dublin (icons along this route include The Burren, Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, King John’s Castle, Waterford Crystal and Glendalough); Westport to Londonderry (icons include Westport House, Matt Molloy’s pub, Benbulben, golf at Ballyliffen, Belleek Pottery, Enniskillen Castle and the Walled City of Londonderry); Dublin to Galway (icons include the Guinness Storehouse, Newgrange, the Shannonbridge Bog Railway, Clonmacnoise and Shop Street in Galway, among others); and Belfast to Giant’s Causeway (icons along this route include Stormont, Lough Neagh, Galgorm Manor, Ulster-American Folk Park, homemade scones in Cushendall, sampling whiskey at Bushmills, Rathlin Island and the Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge). These ads will form a superb platform to promote the many attractions and things to do on the island of Ireland.
Sinéad Grace, Tourism Ireland, tel: 01 476 3493/ 087 685 9027
Mary McCarthy, Weber Shandwick, tel: 01 676 0168/ 086 256 8429