Londonderry’s reign as the UK’s City of Culture will be a key feature in plans to sell Northern Ireland to the overseas market in 2013, Tourism Minister Arlene Foster announced, today. Launching Tourism Ireland’s marketing plans for next year, Arlene Foster said 2013 would provide many opportunities to build on the foundations of the increased awareness created by the ni2012 campaign.
The Minister said: “A major programme of promotional activity is being planned around Londonderry as the UK City of Culture, and this will allow Tourism Ireland to put the city, and Northern Ireland, on the map in a completely new way.
“Tourism Ireland aims to attract more visitors from overseas with a focus on the City of Culture events, the World Police and Fire Games and the worldwide publicity that will undoubtedly be generated by the recent announcement that the G8 summit is to be held in Fermanagh.
“Despite what recent provisional figures may have said, we have much to be optimistic about. Titanic Belfast smashed its visitor targets, with 615,000 people passing through the doors to date. Visitors came from 111 countries, with a ratio of 64% out of state. A Belfast Visitor and Convention survey showed a +14.1% rise in visitors coming to the city, with a 21.7% increase in people coming to the city from the Republic of Ireland. The new Giants’ Causeway visitor centre has already welcomed over 300,000 visitors from 130 countries since its opening in July.
“The Irish Open was the first European Tour event to sell out and Northern Ireland will once again be promoted as one of the world’s top golfing destinations in 2013. Our Major winning golfers continue to be excellent ambassadors on the international stage, with World No.1 Rory McIlroy winning the Race to Dubai and Graeme McDowell taking the World Challenge trophy at the weekend.”
Welcoming Tourism Ireland’s new strategy to grow the GB market, Arlene Foster said: “The current economic situation means fresh thinking is required if we are to tempt GB visitors to come to Northern Ireland. In its new strategy ‘GB Path To Growth’, Tourism Ireland will target specific market segments from the young, urban adventurer to the over 45s who want to explore the landscapes, history and culture we have on offer.”
Other key markets targeted by Tourism Ireland in 2013 will include the United States and mainland Europe, as well as Australia and other emerging markets.
Arlene Foster said: “The theme for 2013 is Global Connections for Tourism Growth, and it is important that we leave no stone unturned in the drive to let the world know what makes Northern Ireland such a special place to visit.”
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Next year is about delivering growth in the continuing difficult climate. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the pace of economic recovery in our key source markets, we believe that 2013 will see an increase in visitor numbers. In particular the Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 celebrations will provide fresh and compelling reasons for people across the world to visit. The G8 summit also presents an unprecedented opportunity to showcase Fermanagh and Northern Ireland – not only to world leaders but to the international media. We plan to build on new levels of awareness arising from ni2012 and will be pulling out all the stops to ensure that Northern Ireland increases its share of the global travel business. And we will continue to work closely with our tourism partners, both at home and overseas, to achieve our common objectives and help drive economic regeneration.”