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02 Dec 2013

Foster outlines plans to tap into overseas tourism potential

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster today launched details of Tourism Ireland’s marketing plans to promote Northern Ireland overseas in 2014 and beyond.

The organisation aims to welcome more than 2 million visitors a year to Northern Ireland by 2016. The targets will see revenue from holiday visitors increase by +36% over the three year period, 2014-2016.

Speaking at the launch, Arlene Foster said: “Given the importance of tourism to the Northern Ireland economy I am setting challenging targets for Tourism Ireland for the coming three years. 2013 was a successful year for us and we look forward to continuing that momentum in 2014 with events such as the Giro d’Italia and the Clipper Yacht race.”

During 2013, the holiday market was a primary focus of Tourism Ireland marketing activity and visitors are forecast to grow by +7%, with holiday visitors from the important GB market growing by an estimated +10% by year end.

The Minister continued: “Capturing the attention of prospective holidaymakers is essential to ensure Northern Ireland stands out from other destinations. In order to attract new and repeat visitors, Tourism Ireland will be seeking opportunities to capitalise on the huge worldwide popularity of HBO’s Game of Thrones television series and continuing to promote iconic attractions like Titanic Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway.

“Golfing visitors will also continue to be a key sector and we will continue to promote Northern Ireland as a top golfing destination with Tourism Ireland’s ‘Home of Champions’ campaign highlighting home grown golfing champions Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke.”

Referring to the need for the tourism industry to proactively sell Northern Ireland overseas, Arlene Foster continued: “Outbound travel from many countries around the world is growing rapidly; however, we are also competing with other destinations to attract visitors. I would therefore urge the Northern Ireland tourism industry to work with Tourism Ireland and take up the opportunities to sell Northern Ireland to the overseas travel trade. Being involved in shows such as the World Travel Market in London will help ensure Northern Ireland is firmly placed as a must see tourism destination.”

Commenting on the year ahead, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland,  said: “We have much to look forward to next year, with a wonderful programme of tourism highlights lined up, providing further compelling reasons to come here. In particular, the hosting of the first stages of the famous Giro d’Italia will be a fantastic opportunity. The race will route competitors around Belfast, along the spectacular Causeway Coast and down to historic Armagh, before moving on to Dublin – beaming wonderful images of Northern Ireland into the homes of millions of people around the world. Tourism Ireland will be pulling out all the stops to maximise the tourism potential of the prestigious race. We will also continue to highlight iconic experiences all over Northern Ireland – including Titanic Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway and our unique National Trust properties. The Causeway Coastal Route, and driving holidays to Northern Ireland, will also be promoted widely.”