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17 Jan 2013

Tourism Ireland unveils new strategy to grow American visitor numbers by +20%

+26% increase in airline seats means 2013 will be record year for American tourists to Ireland

The United States offers significant potential for tourism enterprises around the island of Ireland, according to the findings of an ambitious new review unveiled by Tourism Ireland. The three-year plan, “Make Ireland Jump Out”, will see the number of American visitors increase by +20% between 2013 and 2015 and will also win a greater share for Ireland of all travel by Americans to Europe.

The United States is the island of Ireland’s second most important tourist-generating market. Last year was one of the strongest years ever for visitors from the US to Ireland (after 2007) and 2013 could be the best year ever – when we hope to welcome over one million American visitors, spending over US$1 billion. A critical factor which will underpin this growth is the significant increase – almost 27% – in the number of airline seats between the US and Ireland this summer*.
Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar said: “Ireland has a special relationship with the United States, which is one of our most important tourism markets. Visitors from the US and Canada grew by almost 20% towards the end of 2012, and we are determined to build on this during The Gathering Ireland and over the next few years. This new US strategy focuses on what Americans like about Ireland, but goes one step further by looking at age group, background and reason for travel. For example, one focus is on golfing breaks, which proved hugely popular during last year’s Notre Dame vs Navy American football game. This strategy gives us a platform to build on the incredibly positive buzz building up around The Gathering Ireland 2013, which has already made Ireland one of the recommended places to be this year for the New York Times, USA Today and Fodor’s.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “The United States continues to be one of the strongest markets for tourism to the island of Ireland and 2013 looks set to be a record year. However, we can’t take our relatively successful performance in recent years for granted; we need to adapt and respond to new opportunities to ensure the success continues. I am confident that this new, focused strategy will deliver on the targets we have set for growth in American visitors between now and 2015.

“For 2013, the Gathering Ireland presents an unprecedented opportunity for Tourism Ireland to shine a spotlight on Ireland in the US. Since last autumn, it is being used as a ‘hook’ in all of our promotions, to make Ireland a ‘must visit’ destination, for both the Diaspora and non-Diaspora around the US.”

The last decade has seen many world events and crises impact on the American traveller; despite these challenges, the island of Ireland has managed to maintain a relatively strong performance during this period. However, the “Make Ireland Jump Out” review – undertaken in conjunction with key industry partners – confirms that if the island of Ireland is to continue to grow business from the United States over and above European levels, then it will be necessary to bring our tourism offering to the next stage of development.

The new strategy has identified the various challenges and opportunities that face the island of Ireland for the coming three years. Some of the actions identified in the review which will help to deliver the +20% growth target include:
  • Tourism Ireland will target new segments, making Ireland ‘jump out’ to them in all its promotional activity. These include ‘young independents’ (typically in their late 20s, relatively affluent, with the freedom to travel, web savvy and travelling in couples of with a group of friends); ‘middle-aged explorers’ (aged 40-55, well-educated, interested in history, culture and enjoying the landscape); and ‘mature must seers and doers’ (over 55, affluent and travelling as a couple, with a deep interest in history).
  • As well as these new segments, Tourism Ireland will also maintain a focus on key niche segments. These include business tourism (targeting the lucrative association conference business, incentive travel and corporate meetings); golf (highlighting our world-class links courses, the profile and success of our golfers and our authentic ‘19th hole’ experience); and the Diaspora (targeting the estimated 40 million people around the US who claim ancestral links with the island of Ireland).
  • Moving “lookers” to “bookers: in the main, Ireland is viewed very positively by Americans, many of whom assert an intention to travel here at some stage in the future. Tourism Ireland will deliver immediacy and action in its communications – to get Americans to visit Ireland now. A strong ‘call-to-action’ message will be included in all co-operative promotions with airlines and tour operators, so that the interested vacationer will be in no doubt as to what to do next – get booking that trip to Ireland now!
  • Deliver new relevance: Tourism Ireland will make Ireland more relevant for Americans in the ‘shoulder’ season (March, April, October and November), promoting key experiences and events taking place in those months. Cities like Dublin and Belfast will be extensively promoted, primarily targeting the ‘young independents’ living on the east coast of the US. Shorter, six-day visits will be also highlighted, targeting the ‘cash rich and time poor’ vacationer.

Notes To Editors

Increase in airline seats on routes between the US and Ireland for the peak summer months 2013:

  • +26.6% increase in capacity, compared to summer 2012;
  • 6,500+ additional seats per week i.e. 31,000+ seats in each direction per week;
  • new services include US Airways from Philadelphia to Shannon; United from Chicago to Shannon; and American Airlines New York (JFK) to Dublin;
  • capacity has been added to Aer Lingus routes between Boston, Chicago, Orlando and Dublin; and there are extra services and larger planes on Delta routes between New York (JFK) and Dublin.


Previous Press Release

13 Jan 2013

Ireland scoops travel awards in China