A massive €37 million six-month campaign is underway overseas to promote the island of Ireland as a tourist destination, as the spotlight focuses on Ireland for St Patrick’s celebrations around the world.
With over 70 million people worldwide claiming links with the island of Ireland, Tourism Ireland has a potent mix of consumer, media and trade promotions lined up to tap into the interest and goodwill generated by St Patrick’s celebrations across the globe.
The new board of Tourism Ireland met for the second time last week, to review marketing operations. Commenting on the major promotional effort, Tourism Ireland’s new Chairman, Hugh Friel, said: “St Patrick’s Day provides our tourism industry with a unique platform to showcase what we have to offer to people across the globe. People instantly identify St Patrick’s Day with the island of Ireland, and we are envied by many tourism agencies around the world who would love to have such a well-recognised occasion associated with their destination. Shamrocks, shillelaghs and green drinks may not be to everyone’s taste here on the island, but people across the globe relish the fun and the celebration and we aim to capitalise on that interest and turn it to our direct advantage”.
Tourism Ireland is aiming to attract over 9 million visitors to the island of Ireland this year. “Research is telling us that interest in visiting the island of Ireland remains strong despite increasing competition from up to 200 destinations across the world. While 2008 will probably be a tough year due to economic uncertainty in some key markets including GB and the US, Tourism Ireland believes that we have everything to play for. We need to pull out all the stops to ensure we get our share of the business to be won. This spring campaign is the most intensive and most closely targeted we have ever mounted. Our aim is to convert the massive interest in Ireland into actual travel and solid bookings. Good value partner offers will play a key role in helping to convert interest to business and I urge the industry to work closely with us to bring forward the best value and most compelling offers possible,” said Friel.
British go in search of St Patrick!
One of many multi-media St Patrick’s Day promotions in Britain is a competition to discover the hidden St Patrick in a range of press and outdoor advertising, including The Metro and London Paper and on the London Underground.
Ireland’s Top Chefs Cook Up a Storm in the US
In the all-important US market, some of Ireland’s top chefs are joining
Tourism Ireland to showcase Irish cuisine. Rachel Allen will be in New York for the lead-up to St Patrick’s Day and will make a guest appearance on the NBC’s
Today Show. Chefs from the Dylan in Dublin and the Merchant and Culloden hotels in Belfast will feature in a week-long food promotion in Boston.
New Short Documentaries launch in 12 Markets
Up to 25 million potential visitors across nine European markets and Australia, South Africa and India will view two new short documentaries of the island of Ireland, shot especially for Tourism Ireland by National Geographic. These documentaries will also link to an online advertising campaign and a special competition on nationalgeographic.com. This initiative makes it possible for Tourism Ireland to secure television exposure for the island of Ireland in countries where it would otherwise be too costly.
Ireland in Bloom
Targeting the growing consumer interest in gardens, designers Helen Dillon, Dermot O’Neill and the BBC’s John Cushnie will help to promote the island’s superb range of gardens at the Philadelphia Flower Show, which last year attracted an attendance of over a quarter of a million people.
“Ireland – Can You Afford Not to Go?”
The spring campaign in the US will use the tagline “Ireland – can you afford not to go?” to address the impact of the weak dollar, by highlighting a range of superb value-for-money inclusive packages available throughout the island.
New on-line Advertising
New video clips focusing on scenery, people, food and St Patrick will also feature in a new on-line advertising initiative. This is a very specific, targeted form of
on-line advertising, using keyword association; it was piloted successfully in the GB and US markets by Tourism Ireland and, this spring, will be rolled out in a further eight markets.
Beijing - First St Patrick’s Day Parade
Beijing will experience its first St Patrick’s Day parade, part of a week-long “Ireland Cultural Festival” in Beijing, co-hosted by Tourism Ireland. The parade will take place on Wang Fu Jin Street, the main street in Beijing, which in Olympic year is a major coup for Tourism Ireland. China is one of the world’s fastest growing outbound tourism markets, and offers huge business potential for the island of Ireland in the medium to long term.
World’s first Virtual St Patrick’s Day Parade
Tourism Ireland will host the world’s first virtual St Patrick’s Day Parade in the internet-based, virtual world of Second Life. The virtual Parade will include 20 Irish and Celtic themed floats and will be the highlight of a three-day Discover Ireland Festival, sponsored by Tourism Ireland. Tourism Ireland’s objective is to encourage those who visit this virtual world to visit the real Ireland during 2008.