Since the recent EU referendum in the United Kingdom, Tourism Ireland has been monitoring developments closely, to better understand and plan for the implications of Brexit. Tourism Ireland hosted a Brexit briefing today (Thursday, 21 July) for tourism industry leaders.
At the meeting, tourism leaders heard Oxford Economics’ latest analysis, topline findings from research conducted by Red C for Tourism Ireland in the GB market just last week, an update on the British market performance and an outline of Tourism Ireland’s promotional plans to the end of 2016. Tourism leaders exchanged their experiences to date.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Tourism Ireland has been monitoring the possible impacts of Brexit very closely at home and overseas in recent weeks. As a member of the Irish Government’s Export Trade Council, we’ve been engaged in discussions with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, with our own Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, as well as with other export-driven Departments and agencies. We will continue to participate fully and we welcome the decision to accelerate development of the new trade, tourism and investment policy.
“Although it is still too soon to fully understand the long-term implications of Brexit for tourism to the island of Ireland, we had a very useful discussion with tourism industry leaders today. The British market will remain of significant importance for all of us in the short, medium and long-term. We have committed to continued monitoring of developments over the coming months. But, for now, it is very much business as usual. Tourism Ireland’s €4 million promotional campaign will roll out in Britain from now until the end of the year, to highlight the island of Ireland to prospective visitors and maintain the strong growth we have seen in recent years.”
Today’s meeting also heard:
- Feedback from key travel partners in Britain, including carriers and tour operators, suggests that there has been no major change in travel patterns to Ireland.
- This also reflects the topline findings of Tourism Ireland’s Red C research among GB holidaymakers last week which suggests there has been little impact on travel intentions in the short to medium-term. Tourism Ireland will continue to monitor this response carefully over the coming months.
- Oxford Economics’ analysis suggests that Brexit could lead us to a decline in arrivals to Europe by -1% in 2017, when arrivals will grow by +3.2% instead of the previous forecast of +4.2%. It also says that, in the short-term, UK outbound travel could be curtailed by the weaker pound and moderately slower economic growth. UK outbound visits are now expected to decline by -2.4% in 2017 and this could impact Eurozone destinations including Ireland.
- Tourism Ireland also emphasised that it continues to diversify its marketing activity, so that the sector is not overly reliant on any single market. While the British market accounts for about 42% of Ireland’s overseas visitors, it accounts for around 24% of its overseas tourism revenue (this is due to the fact that visitors from further afield generally tend to stay longer when on holidays here). And, Mainland Europe and North America are now our most important sources of holiday visitors and revenue.
Other issues discussed included:
- Economic uncertainty – holiday travel demand is related to economic demand and uncertainty can cause consumers to be more cautious with their discretionary spend, including holidays.
- Currency movements – impact on competitiveness, which means that British visitors to the Eurozone, particularly in the short-term, are likely to see holidays being more expensive. However, this will be similar for all Eurozone countries. This makes our industry’s value for money message more important than ever in our promotions in Britain.
- The Common Travel Area (CTA) between the UK and Ireland – is a key priority for tourism. In the short-term, there are no changes to how people can travel between Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland.
- Visa schemes – the very welcome developments of the UK/Ireland Visa Waiver Scheme and the British Irish Visa Scheme in recent years have allowed us to market to new audiences in countries such as India and China, where we have seen strong growth; again, there has been no short-term change in these arrangements.
Tourism Ireland will roll out a €4 million promotional campaign in Britain between now and the end of 2016. The campaign will incorporate a major focus on city breaks, as well as on attracting visitors to more rural areas. Highlights of the activity include a series of new online films starring well-known actor Richard E Grant; co-operative promotions with important carriers like Aer Lingus, Ryanair, Irish Ferries and Stena Line; extensive online advertising; as well as a busy programme of digital, PR and social media activity.
Notes To Editors
Great Britain is one of our top four markets for overseas tourism, delivering some 4.5 million visitors in 2015, a +10% increase on 2014. It is also a very important market for Northern Ireland, which recorded a +10% growth in GB visitors last year. Visitor numbers from Britain have continued to grow strongly to date in 2016, with the CSO reporting almost +16% increase between January and May.
Tourism Ireland busy programme of promotions in Britain includes:
- Actor Richard E Grant highlights Ireland to 5.5 million ‘culturally curious’
Tourism Ireland has teamed up with well-known actor Richard E Grant and Smooth Radio, a popular radio station in Britain, to produce a series of five online films. Three of the films have just been unveiled – featuring Belfast, the Causeway Coast and the Wild Atlantic Way; and Richard E Grant will return to Ireland this autumn, to produce two final films – all about Dublin and Ireland’s Ancient East. The campaign, which is being rolled out in two phases, will reach about 5.5 million people across Britain. Richard E Grant is a great fit for the Tourism Ireland campaign and its key audience of ‘culturally curious’ holidaymakers. His appearances in British films and TV series like Withnail and I, Downton Abbey and Hotel Secrets (which featured Ireland in the first series) have cemented his popularity and made him one of the best-known faces on British television.
- Online videos highlight Dublin and Belfast to ‘socal energisers’
Tourism Ireland’s Craic Dublin and Check Belfast films will continue to promote both cities to our ‘social energiser’ audience between now and the end of the year.
- Co-operation with key partners
A busy programme of co-operative campaigns with air and sea carriers – including Aer Lingus, Irish Ferries, Ryanair, easyJet, CityJet, Flybe, Stena Line and P&O – is happening right throughout 2016. For example, a campaign with Irish Ferries to promote car touring holidays on the Wild Atlantic Way and around Ireland’s Ancient East is under way right now and will run until mid-August, reaching more than 16 million potential holidaymakers.
Campaigns with major online travel agents like Expedia, Hotels.com and ebookers are driving bookings for summer and autumn breaks. And Tourism Ireland is also working closely with leading British tour operators. For example, a joint campaign with Secret Escapes, an exclusive members-only travel club, includes a two-page article in National Geographic magazine (1.7 million readers); a specially created section on the website of Secret Escapes, highlighting Ireland’s Ancient East, the Wild Atlantic Way and Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink.
Tourism Ireland is also working with lastminute.com to promote Dublin and Belfast – with online ads targeting ‘social energisers’ who have visited lastminute.com, a homepage takeover for five days on lastminute.com, as well as advertising on Facebook.
- Leveraging screen tourism
Tourism Ireland continues to capitalise on our strong connections with Star Wars and Game of Thrones. Star Wars: The Force Awakens broke box office records around the world last December, bringing the magnificent scenery of Skellig Michael and the Wild Atlantic Way to the attention of millions of people everywhere. The fact that the next episode – due for release at the end of 2017 – was also shot on location along the Wild Atlantic Way earlier this year is another fantastic coup for Irish tourism. Just last weekend, Tourism Ireland attended Star Wars Celebration 2016 in London, which attracted tens of thousands of dedicated Star Wars fans from around the world and provided a superb opportunity to promote the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland.
- Publicity spotlight
Tourism Ireland’s publicity drive continues this summer and into the autumn, targeting national and regional print, broadcast and online media throughout Britain, with lots of positive stories about the island of Ireland.
- Promoting to the influential travel trade
Influential British coach and group tour operators will take part in various familiarisation visits and attend a workshop here this autumn, where they will meet with a range of Irish tourism enterprises and negotiate for their 2017 programmes.
- World Travel Market
Tourism Ireland will mount a significant presence at World Travel Market (WTM) in London, in November. This year, about 60 tourism enterprises from Ireland will join Tourism Ireland at WTM, the largest B2B event in the global tourism calendar.
- Growing business tourism
Corporate meetings and association conferences continue to be the focus of Tourism Ireland’s business tourism promotions in GB this summer and autumn. ‘Ireland Meets the West End’ in London, an important B2B event, will take place later this year.
- ‘Teeing up’ our world-class golf
Co-operative campaigns continue with top online golf tour operators such as Your Golf Travel; and online ads are running on key golf websites between now and the end of the year.