While this summer’s Olympics promises to be a very exciting time in London, the event will inevitably draw huge crowds which will undoubtedly make commuting – and day-to-day life in general – more hectic for Londoners. It is estimated that an additional 18 million journeys will be taken on the London underground this summer*. Tourism Ireland will seize this opportunity – targeting hassled and weary Londoners – and present Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland as the ideal “escape” destination during this busy time.
Over 8 million people living in London will see Tourism Ireland’s “escape the madness” ad campaign this June, featuring an image of a wonderfully peaceful Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge. From next week, ads will run on the London underground, highlighting the open spaces and lack of congestion here; over 200 large ads will appear at different tube stations across the city, targeting frustrated commuters during morning and evening rush hours. Ads will also appear in the Evening Standard, the popular free daily newspaper which is read by millions of commuters each day, again with a message urging people to “escape” to the beautiful landscape and open spaces of Northern Ireland.
Tourism Minister Arlene Foster MLA said: “While millions of people are looking forward to watching the games, not everyone has Olympics fever and we want to take advantage of the opportunity to promote Northern Ireland as a place to escape to during the summer. Only a short plane ride or boat trip away from the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland has so much to offer tourists.
"This is our time to shine, and Titanic Belfast is only the start of an amazing range of events which includes the Land of Giants, the Clipper Yacht Race and the UK City of Culture in Londonderry. In a few weeks, the Irish Open will be held at Portrush and, with a stellar cast of golfers, it is sure to increase the buzz of Northern Ireland as a ‘must see’ place to visit. Throw in our beautiful scenery, spectacular beaches and lively cities and we have the ideal location for all those seeking to get away from it all.”
Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “This summer’s Olympic Games present a unique opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland. With a global audience of about 4 billion, this is the largest sporting event in the world and Tourism Ireland intends to maximise the tourism potential of the games. The proximity of the games in London provides Tourism Ireland with a wonderful opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland as a top holiday and business destination.”
Social media will also help create awareness of all the great things to see and do here; a campaign on Facebook (Tourism Ireland has almost 120,000 fans across GB) and Twitter (over 2,300 followers) saw Tourism Ireland post status updates on the Olympic Torch Relay around Northern Ireland this week and messages will be posted regularly before and during the games. The hashtag #Escapethemadness will be used to create plenty of lively conversations about the island of Ireland on the social networks in GB.
A specially-created web page on discoverireland.com is also promoting the torch relay, as well as the key sporting events and festivals taking place here this summer. And a busy PR and publicity programme is also under way. A series of itineraries for the thousands of accredited and non-accredited media visiting London from across the globe has been developed, encouraging them to come here either before, during or after the games; these include options of 24- and 48-hour trips to Belfast; 72-hour visits to the Northern Ireland; ideas for golf here; as well as information on the various festivals happening throughout the summer.
Tourism Ireland is working closely with key tour operators in all our overseas markets. A print piece, outlining all the reasons to travel to the island of Ireland this summer, called ‘Take a Leap in to Ireland’ has been distributed to tour operators. Tourism Ireland is also working with the official Olympics tour operators in a number of markets, to assist them in offering package extensions to Ireland for their clients who are attending the games.