Historic State Visit of President Michael D. Higgins to Great Britain presents opportunities for tourism

The first-ever State Visit by a President of Ireland to Great Britain was a wonderful occasion for everyone and particularly for those of us in the tourism industry. The visit was an excellent opportunity to shine a spotlight on the island of Ireland to a huge audience of potential holidaymakers in Great Britain, and indeed elsewhere around the world.
Tourism Ireland in Britain took every opportunity to leverage the tourism potential of the historic State Visit. An extensive programme of activity included advertising, publicity and public relations, business tourism promotions, e-marketing and social media.
‘Ceiliúradh’ or ‘Celebration’ concert at the Royal Albert Hall
  • Tourism Ireland was a major sponsor of the international broadcast of the ‘Ceiliúradh’ or ‘Celebration’ concert which took place at London's Royal Albert Hall – a cultural showcase and special celebration of this island’s musicians, singers, actors, poets and authors. The event was live streamed on the RTÉ player, with global access. Tourism Ireland fully exploited the broadcast and PR opportunities – highlighting the live streaming to the Diaspora and other potential holidaymakers in GB and across the world.
  • Tourism Ireland TV ads aired ahead of the live streaming and around the recording. 
  • An edited version of the concert also aired on BBC4 on 13 April, providing an additional opportunity to highlight the destination and its rich culture to British audiences.


Business Tourism Promotions
  • Tourism Ireland was a key sponsor of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce business networking lunch and participated in a high-profile business breakfast networking event. Our guests included key influencers from the British business community including event organisers and decision-makers working in the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) sector. 
  • Email marketing will also targeted Tourism Ireland’s business tourism database – highlighting the State Visit and the important corporate and business links between Britain and Ireland.

  • Tourism Ireland’s 30-second TV ads aired this spring to 14 million viewer across GB. Ads aired after the main evening news on Channel 4 – to 4.5 million viewers – on each day during the State Visit.

  • Tourism Ireland arranged for a special eight-page supplement in The Telegraph, in advance of the State Visit – reaching 1.7 million readers across Britain. And special advertorials, about the State Visit, are running in the Irish Post and in the Irish World, targeting almost 56,000 members of the Diaspora. 

  • A targeted publicity programme included briefing key British journalists – during and after the State Visit. Tourism Ireland’s key messages included general travel/holidays on the island of Ireland, as well as our rich culture and heritage. 
  • The home page of Tourism Ireland’s GB website featured the State Visit for the entire week, with a link to the RTÉ website and the broadcast of the ‘Ceiliúradh’ or ‘Celebrations’ concert. 

Email marketing
  • Tourism Ireland’s email marketing reached some 310,000 potential visitors in Britain, with a link to the RTÉ player and the broadcast of the special ‘Ceiliúradh’ or ‘Celebration’ event.

Social media
  • In addition, posts and tweets targeted Tourism Ireland’s 2.1 million Facebook fans and 120,000 followers on Twitter globally, with messages about the island of Ireland and the ‘Ceiliúradh’ or ‘Celebration’ event.

Ongoing promotion of the island of Ireland in Britain 
  • Britain is the largest single market for tourism to the island of Ireland; last year, we welcomed almost 3.8 million British visitors, who contributed some €1.2/£1.03 billion in revenue to the economies north and south. 
  • Access links between our two islands are also very strong – with 11 car ferry services daily and 95 direct air routes – making it easy to travel between Britain and the island of Ireland.
  • Tourism Ireland rolled out an extensive marketing campaign this spring, targeting millions of potential visitors across Britain. The campaign includes advertising, digital marketing and social media, publicity, trade and consumer promotions; golf and business tourism are also a key focus, as is building on the very positive ‘Gathering’ legacy.
  • Over 14 million people across Great Britain have seen Tourism Ireland television advertising for the destination this spring; an estimated 17 million people in GB will see the island promoted this year in major newspapers, on and offline, in titles such as the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph.
  • Tourism Ireland will generate positive publicity about the island of Ireland in GB this year worth an estimated €32/£27 million (in equivalent advertising value).
  • Some of Tourism Ireland’s key messages include ease of access from Britain; and the value on offer, which has never been better.
  • Tourism Ireland is placing a major focus on the Wild Atlantic Way, the Causeway Coastal Route and St Patrick’s Trail this year in GB. The organisation is also highlighting the Grande Partenza or ‘Big Start’ of the famous Giro d’Italia cycle race, which will bring more than 200 of the world’s top professional cyclists to Belfast, Armagh and Dublin, in May. Other events being highlighted by Tourism Ireland include Limerick City of Culture and the Croke Park Classic, when the University of Central Florida takes on Penn State, bringing all the ‘razzmatazz’ of their college football season opener to Dublin.