A major review of Mainland European markets, carried out by Tourism Ireland to assess and prioritise best prospects for future growth, confirms that Germany and France continue to be the two key European markets offering the best potential for tourism growth. Further opportunity also exists in the Italian, Spanish, Netherlands and Swedish markets.
Mainland Europe, the fastest-growing source market for tourism to Northern Ireland in recent years, now accounts for almost 27% of all holiday visitors. Launching the review, Minister of Enterprise, Trade & Investment, Arlene Foster MLA, said: “This review shows that Northern Ireland is an attractive destination for our European neighbours, whether they are visiting for a short break or for business tourism. The challenge for the local tourism industry is to maximise the potential for tourism growth in the two key markets of Germany and France while further developing tourism opportunities in Italy, The Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.
“The industry, across the globe, is facing challenging economic times but Tourism Ireland will be supporting the local industry by continuing to promote Northern Ireland as a diverse holiday and short break destination in these key European markets. The local tourism industry must plan and be prepared for the economic upturn when it comes.”
Simon Gregory, Tourism Ireland’s Director of Markets, said that the completion of the review coincided with perhaps the most challenging conditions facing the tourism sector globally for more than a decade. “Mainland Europe has been a star performer for tourism to Northern Ireland for the past number of years. However, given the scale and diversity of the markets, it was important to review our best prospects so we can secure growth into the future, and can prioritise our marketing effort and investment to ensure best results.
“The significant expansion of direct air services from Europe to Northern Ireland over the last number of years has been a key driver behind this performance. Without the benefit of further major developments in air services, the challenge will be to continue to grow the market. While the short-term outlook is both uncertain and challenging because of the global downturn, the medium- to longer-term prospects are for continued growth in intra-European travel. The review points to a growth opportunity when the upturn happens and demand expands again.”
The challenge for tourism is that Mainland Europe consists of over 30 diverse markets at differing stages of development. The review, undertaken in conjunction with the tourism industry in Northern Ireland, from across the Republic of Ireland and in Europe, carried out an in-depth analysis of prevailing market conditions and competition. It also considered the recent evolution of visitor flows in Europe and quantified the scale of the opportunity in the period up to 2013, during which time Tourism Ireland will be targeting above average growth from these markets.
The outcome of the review suggests a top tier grouping of six ‘best prospect’ source markets for Northern Ireland, with Germany representing the largest volume potential, followed by France. Further opportunity exists in the Italian, Spanish, Netherlands and Swedish markets.
For further press information:
Contact: Elaine Moore / Clair Balmer, Tourism Ireland
Tel: 028 7035 9260 Mobile: 077 6652 7719