Commenting on the CSO figures issued today, Paul O’Toole, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, said that global tourism is facing one of the most difficult years of the past decade and that a massive marketing effort continues overseas, in an effort to win every possible business opportunity for Irish tourism in 2009. “As anticipated, the global recession and extreme market volatility are biting hard and these CSO figures reflect the tough year tourism businesses are experiencing. The impact of Easter falling in April rather than March is a factor and we will need to scrutinise the April results to get a clearer picture of the underlying trends for the year.
“It’s more competitive than ever before in the international marketplace, with every tourist board in the world vying for a piece of the smaller pie. Naturally enough, price is key to the consumer this year and every destination is discounting and offering knock-down prices and packages. Tourism Ireland is out there fighting hard, promoting incredible value for money offers. We have increased our investment in tactical marketing to support the tourism industry and to drive home to overseas consumers the superb range of offers available throughout the island of Ireland.”
From Far East to East Coast
A unique and welcome marketing platform for Tourism Ireland this year has been the inclusion of Galway as a stopover in the prestigious Volvo Ocean Race. The nine-month Volvo Ocean Race attracts huge publicity around the world and takes in two of Ireland’s key source markets, the US and Mainland Europe, and for the first time visited ports in Asia which represents significant new business potential for Irish tourism in the longer term. “This prestigious sporting event provides a unique platform to put Galway and the island of Ireland in the spotlight, showcasing all we have to offer as a versatile and high quality holiday destination to a potential television audience of 1.8 billion people.
“Next week, in the run-up to the Boston to Galway leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, we are transforming Boston Pier into a showcase for the island of Ireland - alive with Irish music, song, dance and storytelling. Good Food Ireland will showcase the very best of Irish food with demonstrations and tastings available throughout the week. The Irish Pavilion, hosted by Tourism Ireland, will ensure that the famous Irish hospitality and sense of ‘craic’ will be conveyed to thousands of visitors to the Tourism Ireland Waterfront Festival, during the week-long event. Boston is a key gateway to Ireland so this is a unique opportunity to set out our stall in this important market”.
The Boston event marks the high point of six months of Tourism Ireland’s promotion overseas highlighting the Galway stopover. Galway and the island of Ireland have been strongly represented at the major stopover points including Alicante (Spain), Cape Town (South Africa) and Qingdao (China) where the best of Irish culture, music and food has been showcased. And Tourism Ireland will also capitalise on the Volvo Race stopover in Galway to showcase the event and the West of Ireland to a group of influential travel and lifestyle journalists from around the world.
In addition to winning business in the short-term, Tourism Ireland is also setting its sights on reaping significant business potential in the medium to longer term from new and developing markets in Asia. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) the Asia-Pacific region will be one of the fastest-growing outbound regions, expanding by +6.5% on average over the next 15 years. Next week, Tourism Ireland is joining forces with key Irish tourism providers for a workshop in Hong Kong, to promote direct to 100 key buyers from 16 countries across the Asia Pacific region. “In an innovative approach, Tourism Ireland and VisitBritain are working together on this new project to target influential travel trade from the markets of the future”, said Paul O’Toole.
“While we compete with each other for business in many markets, we also work closely. Britain is already one of the most popular European destinations for Asian holidaymakers and it makes sense for Tourism Ireland to target Asian visitors who are planning to travel to GB or to Europe to encourage them to visit the island of Ireland as part of their trip.”
Sinéad Grace, Tourism Ireland tel: 01 476 3493/ 087 685 9027
Note to Editors:
• Tourism Ireland is the organisation responsible for promoting the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination.
• Estimated figures for 2008 indicate that 8.8 million overseas visitors came to the island of Ireland, delivering revenue of €4.2 billion.
• Tourism Ireland’s international website is www.discoverireland.com; there are 41 different websites, providing information in 19 different languages covering every continent. In 2008 discoverireland.com attracted a record 10.3 million unique visitors, a +54% increase in visits on 2007.