Our traditional hospitality and welcome for overseas visitors remains our Number One asset. However, research shows that the number of tourists saying so has declined in the recent past, so we need to ‘Shine’ if we are to grow our tourism industry in the years ahead.
Some commentators believe that we lost our friendliness during the boom years, but our overseas visitors do not agree. Research shows that the people of Ireland remain our Number One advantage over other holiday destinations. However, between 2002 and 2008 there was a decline of six percentage points (from 45% to 39%) in the number of tourists citing the people of Ireland as a particular advantage of holidaying here. While the people of Ireland certainly remain our strongest asset, this decline is of concern.
On the back of these findings Tourism Ireland has just launched a new initiative, entitled ‘Shine’, to remind frontline tourism workers of four simple behaviours that they should display in their interactions with tourists.
Firstly, show a lively interest in customers – it is this additional engagement that distinguishes their experience here from that of many other countries. Secondly, be natural – people engage with people and our holiday stories are often dominated by the people and personalities that we have met. Thirdly, become a local expert – tourists love to hear ideas from locals about what there is to do and see in the area and it is that unique and unusual suggestion that can make their holiday so memorable. Finally, be happy and show it – our tourists are here to have fun!
“In our marketing overseas, Tourism Ireland promises potential visitors an experience that is unique and full of spontaneity, engagement and fun,” says Mark Henry, Tourism Ireland’s Director of Central Marketing. “When they arrive, the people they meet here are the ones who deliver that promise. They can do this by performing at their best – by being happy, interested, natural and expert. The message is simple: when our people shine, Ireland radiates!”
“In the current difficult trading environment, it is more important than ever that we recognise our greatest resource – our people – beginning with those who work in tourism and hospitality. If we invest ‘Shine’, it will pay back manifold through the terrific stories visitors take home and share with others – whether face-to-face or in an online forum,” said Mark Henry.
Tourism Ireland has designed a programme pack to support the roll-out of the ‘Shine’ initiative across the tourism and hospitality industries. It consists of a simple straight-talking leaflet, a DVD and a website www.irelandshines.com. In support of the initiative, Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, will this year include ‘Shine’ in its Customer Service training and as a component in the initial Service Excellence module of its Optimus programme.
Sinéad Grace, Tourism Ireland t: 01 476 3493/ 087 685 9027
Notes to Editors:
• Tourism Ireland is the organisation responsible for promoting the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination.
• The research results cited are taken from the Visitor Attitude Survey conducted annually by Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, with 10,000 departing overseas holidaymakers. In 2008, when asked what is Ireland’s distinguishing advantage over other destinations, 39% of respondents mentioned Irish people (compared to 45% of respondents in 2002).
• Visit www.irelandshines.com for more information on the ‘Shine’ initiative.