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03 Jan 2012

Sacré Bleu! Tourism Ireland looks to French connection to drive visitor numbers (NI version)

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

Tourism Ireland has unveiled an ambitious new strategic plan for France, Northern Ireland’s fifth largest overseas tourism market. The plan aims to increase the number of French holidaymakers to Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland by almost +40% by 2014 (from 2010). It follows Tourism Ireland’s extensive review of the French market in 2011. While Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland hold strong appeal in the French market – with 29,000 French visitors coming to Northern Ireland in 2010, delivering about £5 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 Northern Ireland is portrayed as ‘une destination à la mode’ (a fashionable destination) and that campaigns generate really positive word of mouth and strong growth.  

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 £5 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.”

An exciting programme of events is planned for NI2012 with the opening of iconic new attractions like Titanic Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, and the hosting of the Irish Open at Royal Portrush. All of this provides Tourism Ireland with a wonderful opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland as an interesting, vibrant destination. A year-round programme has been designed to focus on five unique things for French visitors to do in Northern Ireland, using surprising imagery and alternative media to create a sense of awakening. Campaigns will focus on Titanic Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway, the walls and history of Londonderry, the Causeway Coastal Route and St Patrick’s Trail.

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.