South Africa Trade Mission

15 Jan 2008

Tourism Ireland starts a major tourism drive this week in South Africa as part of a trade mission led by An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.  With an estimated population of 44.8m, South Africa is an important developing market for Irish tourism and visitor numbers have been steadily increasing over the last five years.  Almost 50,000 Africans visited Ireland in 2006, an increase of 22% on the previous year.  

“To date, the island of Ireland has succeeded in attracting record visitor numbers and revenue from core markets Great Britain, North America and Europe” said Paul O’Toole Chief Executive, Tourism Ireland.  “If we are to continue to grow business over and above World and European levels, the tourism industry must expand its focus beyond traditional core markets and look to realise the opportunities presented by new and developing markets such as South Africa” said Paul O’Toole. 

Significant groundwork has already been undertaken in the market by Tourism Ireland over the past six years and South Africa is now one of Ireland’s more established new markets.  “Ireland is well known in South Africa and is a destination that many South Africans aspire to visit. The challenge for us is to move them along the decision making process and convert lookers into bookers.”  said O’Toole.

Britain is the top long-haul destination for South Africans; it attracts about one third of the entire market travelling beyond Africa. According to travel trade reports, visitor numbers from South Africa to the United Kingdom are estimated to have increased by 15%, to 352,000 visitors in 2007.  Most South Africans combine their Ireland visit with a trip to Britain and Tourism Ireland aims to encourage more of them to include the island of Ireland on their itinerary. 

The South African market also offers significant business tourism potential for meetings, incentive and conference travel and this market segment will be a key focus for Tourism Ireland in 2008.  A new website is being launched, to promote Ireland’s rapidly developing business tourism product; direct marketing campaigns will target the business sector and key incentive travel decision makers will be invited to visit the island of Ireland to experience the product for themselves.


Note to Editors:

South African visitors are mainly “empty nesters” who enjoy the cultural and sightseeing aspects of Ireland. They are adventurous and like to travel throughout the island of Ireland; the most popular package is self-drive and B&B accommodation. Ireland also attracts a small number of young South Africans who are on their year abroad in Britain. The average length of stay is approximately 5 - 7 nights.  

Profile of South African travellers to the island of Ireland:
• Youth market (18-28 years)
Visit Ireland while on working holidays in Britain; tend to have shorter stays and mostly in Dublin

• Mature market (35-50 years)
90% of travellers to Ireland visit for 5-7 days; prefer B&B and self-drive holidays or coach tours

• Retired market (55+ years)
Most of these travellers tend to take 7- and 8-day coach tours

• MICE sector (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions)
Business, incentive and conference travellers

Visitors to the island of Ireland:
• South African travellers enjoy Irish culture and attractions, especially castles, houses and gardens
• South Africans enjoy the self-drive option and B&B accommodation; they feel comfortable driving in Ireland

Perceptions of Ireland in South Africa:
• Warm, friendly people
• Scenic beauty
• Historic and cultural sites and activities
• Ireland an expensive destination

Taking care of the South African visitor:
South Africans enjoy interacting with Irish people. They are confident, independent travellers.
• South Africans are used to the vast distances in their own country and view Ireland as compact and user-friendly for touring
• English is a shared common language
• There are numerous cultural cross-overs
• The majority of South African travellers opt for cost-efficient B&B accommodation
• Golf is a big attraction for South Africans

For Info Contact:  Sinead Grace, Tourism Ireland Tel:01 476 3492 / 0876859027
                                Mary McCarthy / Louise Cassidy, Weber Shandwick  Tel: 01 676 0168


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