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03 Jan 2012

Sacré bleu! Tourism Ireland looks to French connection to drive visitor numbers

New strategic plan aims to increase French holidaymakers by almost +40% by 2014

Tourism Ireland has unveiled an ambitious new strategic plan for France, Ireland’s fourth largest overseas tourism market. The plan aims to increase the number of French holidaymakers by almost +40% by 2014 (from 2010). It follows Tourism Ireland’s extensive review of the French market in 2011.  While the island of Ireland hold strong appeal in the French market – with 344,000 French visitors coming here in 2010, delivering some €177 million in revenue – Tourism Ireland plans to deliver even stronger growth over the next three years.  

The review has identified the consumer segments with the strongest potential for growth. These include ‘young active sightseers’, ‘young city breaker culture seekers’, ‘mid-age sightseers’, and repeat visitors. The new strategy has been designed to appeal to the identified segments and will ensure that the island of Ireland is portrayed as ‘une destination à la mode’ (a fashionable destination) and that campaigns generate really positive word of mouth and strong growth.  

Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Leo Varadkar TD, said: “France is a priority tourism market for Ireland and it’s great to see this new research showing that we can increase the number of French holidaymakers by up to +40% by 2014. The recent tourism figures showed an increase of almost +10% in visitors from Mainland Europe this year; we are determined to build on this growth in 2012. France is ont of the four tourism markets which together deliver 75% of all our overseas visitors.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Increasing holidaymakers from France by almost +40% by 2014 (from 2010) is an ambitious goal but we are building on a strong base. French holidaymakers are younger than average and it is now easier than ever to get to the island of Ireland from all regions of France. More than half of all our French visitors stay for one to two weeks, generating revenue of €177 million per year. Tourism Ireland is excited about seeking new opportunities to expand. This new strategy will create a sense of urgency, to inspire French holidaymakers to ‘visit now’. Partnership will be the key to success and we look forward to working closely with our industry partners from around the island of Ireland in achieving our goals.”

To attract more of the ‘young active sightseers and culture seekers’, Tourism Ireland will work with popular brands in France like North Face, Oxbow and Decathlon, to place the spotlight on our outdoor activities and make them desirable among the young and active.

A new ‘Discover Yourself’ app, designed to appeal to the ‘mid-age sightseers’, will allow people to find out more about the many activities available here, which offer exciting and unexpected alternatives to what they do in their everyday lives. Users will fill in a questionnaire online helping them devise an itinerary full of activities which are personalised to their individual needs. The app will offer a range of attractive options and users will also be able to choose from a range of unique ‘discover yourself’ options for more unusual or unexpected things to do.

Promotions targeting ‘young city breakers’ on popular websites and social media will showcase the fun, energy and vibrancy of our cities – without distancing ourselves from other iconic images of landscapes and friendly pubs.  

Tourism Ireland currently has a blog for the French market, which regularly showcases the sights, sounds and flavours that the island of Ireland has to offer ( and the Tourism Ireland Facebook page in France currently has more than 37,000 fans.