Tourism Ireland Announces Plans for Massive Global St Patrick’s Celebration

09 Feb 2010

Unique “greening’ of Sydney Opera House, London Eye, Empire State Building and Toronto’s CN Tower

In a major coup for Irish tourism, iconic buildings and attractions around the world including the Sydney Opera House, the London Eye, the Empire State Building and the CN Tower in Toronto, among others, will turn green in honour of St Patrick’s Day.  This unique initiative was announced by Tourism Ireland today when it unveiled plans for the biggest ever promotional programme of activities to showcase the island of Ireland in the run-up to St Patrick’s Day around the world.  

Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “Over seventy million people around the world claim links with the island of Ireland and St Patrick’s Day is a truly unique opportunity to showcase our wonderful tourism product to a huge audience across the globe, as people instantly identify St Patrick’s Day with Ireland.  The agreement to allow us to “green” such iconic buildings and attractions must be a first for any destination and clearly illustrates the goodwill that the Ireland brand generates across the world.  We will use every opportunity to capitalise on Ireland’s heightened profile to showcase the uniqueness of a holiday on the island – the diversity of our culture and heritage and the friendliness of our people.”

“Tourism Ireland’s €1 million St Patrick’s programme will span Britain, Mainland Europe, North America, Australia as well as new and developing markets such as China, India and South Africa.  There will be saturation coverage of the island of Ireland across the airwaves, in newspapers and across digital media.  We aim to bring a smile to the world.  The message is that there has never been a better time to visit the island of Ireland.  The St Patrick’s programme is an integral element of our overall €26 million first-half marketing drive aimed at restoring overseas tourism to growth in 2010”, said Niall Gibbons.

In Britain, Ireland’s largest single market, Tourism Ireland is planning to make St Patrick’s one of the biggest consumer events there in the first quarter, staging a nationwide action-packed programme of activities inviting consumers to join in the celebrations.  It includes a range of high impact, innovative, themed promotions focusing on our music, literature, food, genealogy, sport, festivals etc.   Activities will take place across nine key railway stations across GB and in city centres, with lots of other surprises popping up for consumers along the way.  Culture will be a significant theme, with Tourism Ireland working with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, the World Irish Dance Championships, Riverdance, The Priests and Scotland’s StAnza Poetry Festival, to showcase our many cultural strengths.  Tourism Ireland will participate in a number of promotions, including the Best of Britain and Ireland show and the Who Do You Think You Are show at London’s Olympia, targeting those interested in tracing their ancestry.

The St Patrick’s programme comes on the back of a very busy and successful start to marketing activities in Britain this year, which included two special hour-long programmes of Three Men in a Boat in Ireland, featuring Dara O’Briain, as well as a Paul Merton Ireland special and a feature on BBC 1’s Countryfile.  These programmes attracted huge audiences and in January alone, Tourism Ireland publicity activity in GB generated €19.7 million in EAV (equivalent advertising value).  Also helping to capture the imagination of the British were Jedward and Ronan Keating, both of whom joined Tourism Ireland in novel radio promotional campaigns in Britain. 

In the important US market, Tourism Ireland has a host of consumer and trade promotions taking place from East to West in the run-up to St Patrick’s Day and during the spring, in which up to 100 Irish tourism industry representatives will participate.  These include the Philadelphia Flower Show (bigger than the Chelsea Flower Show) and the Canada Blooms show in Toronto.  Two major roadshows – spanning Boston, New York and Chicago and Atlanta, Dallas and Houston – are also planned to capitalise on the profile generated by St Patrick’s activities. 

A range of novel and fun campaigns are also planned across Mainland Europe.  In Sweden, Tourism Ireland is taking over Stockholm Central Station for St Patrick’s week, where commuters will be entertained by Irish music and a Riverdance troupe as well as a visit by St Patrick himself!  In Germany, vibrant Ireland ads and images will be projected onto buildings in Cologne and Munich during peak travel times throughout the week.  Attention-grabbing “Flashmob” promotions will also take place in the streets of Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Munich on St Patrick’s Day, with musicians, singers and dancers.

China, the world’s fastest-growing outbound tourism market, also features in Tourism Ireland’s St Patrick’s programme.  The organisation is planning events in Beijing and in Shanghai where there will also be a St Patrick’s Day parade, now in its third year, attracting huge interest and participation from local people.

Commenting on the year ahead, Niall Gibbons said that Tourism Ireland’s mission in 2010 is to return overseas visitor numbers to growth.  “We are aiming to grow visitor numbers by +3% this year – attracting an additional 230,000 visitors – giving a 2010 target of 7.85 million.  This outcome will mean that tourism to the island of Ireland will grow ahead of the competition.  Our global website received a record 13 million visits in 2009, which is most encouraging and illustrates a continued strong interest in the island of Ireland, despite the challenging environment.  We aim to convert that interest into sales in 2010”, said Niall Gibbons.

Further information:
Sinéad Grace, Tourism Ireland t: 01 476 3493/ 087 685 9027


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