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28 Nov 2016

Tourism Ireland launches 2017 marketing plans

Major push in Mainland Europe and North America to grow tourism revenue by +4.5% to €5.7 billion for 2017

Tourism Ireland today launched details of its marketing plans to promote the island of Ireland overseas in 2017, at an event attended by Tourism Minister Shane Ross TD and tourism industry leaders from around the country. 

2016 is set to be the best year ever for Irish tourism, surpassing all previous records; by year end, 10.5 million people will have visited the island of Ireland. For 2017, Tourism Ireland aims to build on this year’s performance, in terms of visitor numbers; and to grow overseas tourism revenue by +4.5% in 2017 i.e. €5.7 billion to the economies north and south next year. 

Building on this year’s success and sustaining growth into the future is at the heart of Tourism Ireland’s strategy for 2017. Factors working in our favour include new flights to Ireland from the US, Germany and Scandinavia, as well as expanded services via the Middle East from long-haul countries; strong economies in key source markets like the United States and Mainland Europe; and the Ireland ‘brand’ (or image abroad) remains strong. Other positives include Tourism Ireland’s strength in digital and social media (the organisation is the fourth most popular tourism board in the world on Facebook). 

A new ad highlighting the island of Ireland was also unveiled at the Tourism Ireland launch today. The ad will air from January 2017 in 23 markets around the world – including on national television across the United States and in cinemas in Britain.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD, said: “We know that the result of the UK referendum on EU membership may bring challenges for tourism in 2017. Therefore it will be more important than ever that Ireland stands out as a top tourist destination in our key overseas markets. This work to grow interest in visiting Ireland generally will be supported by promotion of our iconic holiday experiences – Ireland’s Ancient East, the Wild Atlantic Way and Dublin – A Breath of Fresh Air. All three will be major themes for Tourism Ireland next year, as well as the promotion of touring holidays, city breaks, festivals, events and activities. Tourism Ireland will also continue to work with our airports and airlines, to encourage the creation of new routes and expansion of existing services to the regions, as part of its regional and seasonal dispersion strategy.”

2016 performance
Latest estimates indicate that, by year end, 10.5 million people will have visited the island of Ireland, representing an +11% increase over 2015, with growth recorded from all markets. Revenue generated by international visitors is expected to be €5.4 billion, a +10% increase over last year – helping to sustain some 263,000 valuable jobs in communities across the island.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “2016 will be the best year ever for Irish tourism, surpassing all previous records and coming on the back of a number of years of strong growth. And, I am delighted to report that we have seen growth from all our markets around the world – with record numbers arriving here from North America, Mainland Europe, and Australia and developing markets. Throughout the year, Tourism Ireland undertook a packed programme of promotions, to bring 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 Ireland; Tourism Ireland estimates that this media exposure is worth an estimated €385 million in equivalent advertising value.” 

In 2017, Tourism Ireland aims to grow overseas tourism revenue by +4.5%, to €5.7 billion for the economies north and south. In terms of visitor numbers, the aim is to sustain this year’s results and to welcome 10.6 million overseas visitors. 

Commenting on the year ahead, Niall Gibbons said: “We are heading into 2017 in a position of some strength, based on the success of 2016. Tourism Ireland will create ‘stand out’ for the island of Ireland around the world next year, highlighting iconic experiences like the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Titanic Belfast and the Causeway Coastal Route. We will also promote Dublin, in particular for shoulder and off-peak travel. Screen tourism will remain a priority, as we continue to capitalise on our connections with Star Wars and Game of Thrones. 

“In early 2017, we will unveil a new strategy to grow tourism from new and emerging markets. We will continue to highlight the recently-announced extension of the Irish Short Stay Visa Waiver Programme, which helps us promote to new audiences. We are committed to making 2017 another strong year for Irish tourism.”

2017 may present some challenges – not least Brexit, which is likely to impact on consumer confidence, which in turn may have consequences for travel to all destinations, including Ireland, from Britain. As our nearest neighbour and our largest market for overseas tourism, Britain will remain a priority for us. The depreciation of sterling against the euro since the UK referendum on Brexit means that value for money will be a key message for us in Britain next year. Tourism Ireland will continue to work with our industry partners to highlight the ease of getting to the island of Ireland. 

Access developments for 2017 include a new Aer Lingus flight to Dublin from Miami, as well as expanded services on Aer Lingus flights from Los Angeles, Chicago and Orlando. Other new routes in the pipeline include a Delta flight from Boston to Dublin, Transavia from Munich to Dublin, a Norwegian service between Stockholm and Dublin, an SAS flight from Stockholm to Shannon, a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Shannon, WOW Air from Keflavik (Iceland) to Cork and a Swiss Air flight from Zurich to Cork. Also, Etihad will once again operate double-daily departures between Abu Dhabi and Dublin, from April.
  Joan O’Shaughnessy, Vice Chair of Tourism Ireland; Tourism Minister Shane Ross; and Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, at the launch of Tourism Ireland’s marketing plans for 2017 in Dublin.

Notes To Editors

Tourism Ireland’s focus in 2017
Tourism Ireland has identified a number of strategic areas to underpin its promotional activity in 2017. These include:

  • Focusing resources: Tourism Ireland will focus its investment on the basis of market potential and will continue to implement its market diversification strategy. We intend to maximise holiday revenue through investment in Mainland Europe and North America. We will optimise investment in Australia and emerging markets of high potential, including China and India. 
  • Target audiences: We will continue to target our key ‘culturally curious’ audience, who have the strongest propensity to visit the island of Ireland. We will reach our ‘social energiser’ and ‘great escaper’ audiences in markets where significant potential exists, And Tourism Ireland will also target niche segments – including golfers, business and incentive visitors, as well as the diaspora in Britain, North America and Australia.
  • Key promotional themes: Tourism Ireland will promote our iconic holiday experiences – Ireland’s Ancient East, Dublin and the Wild Atlantic Way. Other key promotional themes will include the Causeway Coastal Route, Titanic and Belfast.
  • Collaboration: Tourism Ireland will collaborate with key partners, including air and sea carriers and the international travel trade, to deliver sustained connectivity and sales growth. We will provide thousands of promotional engagements for Irish tourism enterprises and overseas travel trade partners – to help them do business overseas and facilitate them to ‘close the sale’, particularly in the digital space. 
  • Regional and seasonal spread: Tourism Ireland will work with tour operators, air and sea carriers, and air and sea ports, to foster the greater dispersal of visitors around the regions of Ireland and right throughout the year, highlighting the island of Ireland for shoulder and off-peaks breaks. The year-round programme of festivals and events, car touring holidays, short holidays and city breaks will also be promoted. 
  • Digital and social media: In 2017, 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 fourth most popular tourism board in the world on Facebook (more than 3.7 million fans), number four on Twitter (372,000 followers) and number three on YouTube (over 28 million views). Tourism Ireland’s international website,, attracted a record 18 million visitors in 2016. 
  • 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. In 2017, Ireland’s Ancient East will be the venue for the prestigious Travel Classics International writers’ conference, regarded by many as the world’s foremost networking event for travel writers and editors. This year, Tourism Ireland’s publicity activities generated thousands of articles and broadcasts, worth an estimated €385 million. 
  • Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening 2017: 2017 will mark the eighth 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 our national day.