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03 Dec 2015

Bell launches Tourism Ireland 2016 marketing plans

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Jonathan Bell, has launched details of Tourism Ireland’s marketing plans to promote Northern Ireland overseas in 2016. Speaking in Belfast, the Minister outlined the plans to attract two million overseas visitors to Northern Ireland, generating £476 million spend and representing a target of +4% increase in overseas visitors and +5% increase in revenue in 2016.

Jonathan Bell said: “Building on this year’s success and sustaining growth into the future is at the heart of Tourism Ireland’s strategy for 2016. Positive factors contributing to building on our 2015 tourism success include new flights to Northern Ireland and stronger economies in key source markets. I also welcome the opportunity to showcase a new updated advert highlighting our latest tourism experience – The Gobbins Cliff Path. The new ad will launch in January 2016 in 23 markets around the world, reaching 26 million potential holidaymakers in France and Germany alone.

“Tourism Ireland will continue to promote major Northern Ireland themes and attractions around the world next year – including the Causeway Coastal Route, Titanic Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway, our National Trust properties and our world-class golf offering. In 2016, we will also be inviting people from across the world to come here and enjoy a year of culinary celebrations for the ‘Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink’, giving them the opportunity to discover some of the best dining and hospitality on offer.  

“Latest estimates indicate that, by 2015 year end, 1.9 million people will have visited Northern Ireland in 2015, representing a +5% increase over 2014. Revenue generated by international visitors is expected to be approximately £454 million, a +2% increase over the previous year. While I believe we should celebrate this success, we must now set our sights higher on even bigger targets to ensure our tourist industry reaches its full potential.

“I know Tourism Ireland will continue to build on this success and in particular its Game of Thrones campaign in the spring. They will also continue to raise awareness of Northern Ireland as a top class business tourism destination, particularly highlighting the new facilities at the Waterfront Hall.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “2015 is set to be a very good year for overseas tourism to Northern Ireland. Throughout the year, Tourism Ireland undertook a packed programme of promotions, to bring Northern Ireland to the attention of travellers everywhere. Thousands of opportunities were created for potential visitors around the world to read, hear or watch positive messages about Northern Ireland; Tourism Ireland estimates that this media exposure is worth an estimated £90 million in equivalent advertising value.”

Commenting on the year ahead, Niall Gibbons said: “Following a successful 2015, ambitious targets have been set again for 2016 and beyond. Next year, we will place a major focus on Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink, inviting people who love great food to come and enjoy a wonderful culinary celebration – where they will discover the best of local produce and have the chance to experience the spectacular scenery and wonderful coastline which makes Northern Ireland so special. We will highlight The Gobbins Cliff Path around the world, while continuing to place a major focus on other iconic experiences like Titanic Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway and our unique National Trust properties. We will continue to target people of Ulster-Scots descent; and to promote Northern Ireland as a top golf and business tourism destination.”

  Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Jonathan Bell MLA; and Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, at the the launch of Tourism Ireland’s 2016 marketing plans in Belfast.

Notes To Editors

Tourism Ireland’s focus in 2016

Tourism Ireland has identified a number of key themes to underpin its promotional activity in 2016 and continue to grow visitor numbers from overseas. These include:

  • Digital and social media: In 2016, Tourism Ireland will continue to leverage its strength in digital and social media – especially important in developing new ways of reaching, and connecting more frequently, with our target audiences. Tourism Ireland is now the third most popular tourism board in the world on Facebook (about 3.33 million fans), number two on Twitter (317,000 followers) and number two on YouTube. Tourism Ireland’s international website,, attracted a record 17 million visitors in 2015. Next year, a new forum will be developed on, a community approach to making it easier for a potential visitor to plan their holiday to Northern Ireland.
  • International publicity: Tourism Ireland will also ramp up its publicity programme around the world – placing increased focus on digital channels and working more closely with online media, including bloggers. This year, Tourism Ireland’s publicity activities generated thousands of articles and broadcasts about Northern Ireland, worth an estimated £90 million.
  • The Gobbins Cliff Path and the Causeway Coastal Route: Promoting the Causeway Coastal Route will remain a key focus for Tourism Ireland in 2016, with Tourism Ireland’s new TV ad featuring The Gobbins Cliff Path reaching 26 million prospective holidaymakers in France and Germany alone.
  • Collaboration: Tourism Ireland will provide thousands of promotional engagements for Northern Ireland tourism enterprises and trade partners overseas – to help them do business overseas and facilitate them to ‘close the sale’, particularly in the digital space.
  • Case-making for increased direct access: As an island destination, the importance of convenient, direct, non-stop flights to Northern Ireland cannot be overstated; there is a proven direct correlation between access and growth in visitor numbers. Tourism Ireland will continue to work closely with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, airlines, airports and other key partners – with a particular focus on markets such as Canada and Germany – to identify and help close gaps in air services to Northern Ireland, stimulate new flights and jointly promote existing routes.
  • Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening 2016: 2016 will mark the seventh year of Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening initiative – when hundreds of iconic landmarks and sites around the world will be illuminated in green to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.
  • Target audiences: In addition to our key ‘culturally curious’ and ‘social energisers’ audiences, Tourism Ireland will also target niche segments – including golfers, business and incentive visitors, as well as the Ulster-Scots and Irish Diaspora.