An Taoiseach Brian Cowen TD joined forces with Tourism Ireland in New York today for an Ireland promotion attended by leading members of the US tourism industry. The promotion provided an opportunity to highlight the wide range of attractive and competitive tourism packages currently available across the length and breadth of the island. In an effort to counter the challenges posed by low US consumer confidence and a weak dollar, Tourism Ireland introduced a new approach to its marketing campaign this year with the tagline “Ireland – can you afford not to go?”
The US is a crucially important source of visitors and tourism revenue to the island of Ireland. American visitors stay longer and spend more per head than most other nationalities. They spend approximately 60% more than the average visitor, accounting for almost one in every five euro spent here. The US tourist sector is also of vital importance to many sectors of the industry including serviced accommodation, car rental and regional tourism enterprises.
The island of Ireland enjoyed record visitor numbers from the US last year, reaching almost one million visitors, despite the unfolding credit crisis in the US in the second half of 2007. Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures for the first four months of this year, show a marginal increase on visitor numbers over the same period last year; however visitor spend is down in the first quarter (-13.6%), clearly showing that although the Americans may be travelling, they are understandably feeling the pinch of the strong euro and spending less.
Speaking at the event, An Taoiseach Brian Cowen said that feedback from the US tourism industry was positive going forward and that there is strong interest in Ireland as a holiday destination. “The US market is of critical importance to our tourism industry and has proven so time and time again; indeed, 2007 was a record year. Undoubtedly, right now the weak dollar is making it extremely difficult for the tourism industry in Ireland and across Europe. I applaud the industry’s response to the challenge and I believe they will ultimately reap the rewards. Given the ongoing global economic uncertainty and pressure on consumer confidence, 2008 is proving to be one of the most challenging years ever for Irish tourism and indeed for tourism across the globe. However, the Irish tourism industry is one of the most dynamic sectors and has proven to be resilient and creative in challenging times in the past. I believe that the strategic approach taken with tourism in recent years, by both the public and private sectors, has given the industry the capacity to withstand such cyclical external challenges and to sustain its performance in coming years,” concluded Taoiseach Brian Cowen.
Speaking in New York, Paul O’Toole, Tourism Ireland’s Chief Executive, said: “We have sustained our core investment in the US market this year and supplemented it with an additional €3 million provided by Government to promote the west of Ireland, with the “Discover Ireland’s Wonderful West” campaign. We are working hard to ensure that Ireland is front of mind when US consumers are choosing their holiday destination. Previous experience has shown that maintaining our investment in tough times has paid off. Ireland is one of only two major European destinations to have recovered fully from the downturn in travel which followed the 9/11 attacks.
“The strong euro effectively means that the price of a holiday in Ireland is approximately 16% more expensive than it was this time last year. The industry has responded to this challenge with a fantastic range of value-for-money offers right across the board, from B&Bs, self-drive packages, coach tours and golfing holidays, to top of the range offers for 5 star properties. It is all to play for in the US to year end, and we will fight for every possible business opportunity available,” said O’Toole.
Sinéad Grace, Tourism Ireland, tel: 01 476 3493/ 087 685 9027
Mary McCarthy, Weber Shandwick, tel: 01 676 0168/ 086 256 8429
Note to Editors:
A sample of some of the good value packages currently on offer:
• CELTIC TOURS
Celtic Delight Tour - a seven-day escorted tour featuring Dublin, Waterford, Cork, Killarney, the Ring of Kerry and Dingle; from $1,162 per person sharing (land only).
• CIE TOURS INTERNATIONAL
Irish Legends Tour - a ten-day all inclusive coach tour staying in a mix of hotels and B&Bs; from $1,620 per person sharing (land only).
• SCEPTRE TOURS
Ritz-Carlton Emerald Bed & Breakfast Package – a seven-day vacation, combining the traditional Irish hospitality of a B&B stay with the luxury of the Ritz-Carlton, with car hire included; from $1,069 per person sharing (air-inclusive).
• DESTINATION IRELAND GOLF TOURS
Heavenly Links – 4 rounds championship golf at Tralee, Lahinch and Ballybunion; 4 nights de luxe accommodation and self- or chauffeur-drive car from $1,975 per person (land only).
Great deals on hotels –hundreds of hotel and guesthouse breaks throughout Ireland, from $105 per room per night.
• THE CAUSEWAY COAST & GLENS
3-day self-drive tour – experience one of the world’s most scenic drives including two nights’ hotel accommodation and car; from $330 per person sharing.
• MANOR HOUSE HOTELS
Affordable Castle Stays and 4-star hotels - a selection of castles or hotels from $139 per person sharing per night.