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01 Dec 2016

Tourism Ireland launches 2017 marketing plans (NI version)

2.15 million overseas visitors is target for 2017

£557 million is overseas tourism revenue target for 2017

Tourism Ireland today launched details of its marketing plans to promote Northern Ireland overseas in 2017, at an event attended by tourism industry leaders from around Northern Ireland. 

2016 is set to be the best year ever for overseas tourism to Northern Ireland; by year end, almost 2.1 million people will have visited Northern Ireland. In 2017, Tourism Ireland aims to build on this year’s performance and to welcome 2.15 million visitors to Northern Ireland. This figure will represent growth of +3.4% over 2016 and deliver £557 million to the Northern Ireland economy (+5.6%) next year. 

In 2017, Tourism Ireland will continue to promote major Northern Ireland themes and attractions around the world – including the Causeway Coastal Route, Titanic Belfast (Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction), the Giant’s Causeway, our National Trust properties and our world-class golf. Tourism Ireland will continue to highlight our wonderful food scene, building on the legacy of Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink. Screen tourism will remain a priority, as we continue to capitalise on our connection with Game of Thrones and build on the success of Tourism Ireland’s award-winning ‘Doors of Thrones’ campaign this spring. And, Tourism Ireland will also leverage the tourism benefits of the semi-finals and final of the Women’s Rugby World Cup, which will take place in Belfast in August 2017.

2016 performance
Latest estimates indicate that, by year end, almost 2.1 million people will have visited Northern Ireland, representing a +6% increase over 2015. Revenue generated by international visitors is expected to be £527 million, a +9% increase over last year. 

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “2016 will be the best year ever 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 £104 million in equivalent advertising value. Other positives in 2016 have included Tourism Ireland’s strength in digital and social media (the organisation is the fourth most popular tourism board in the world on Facebook, with more than 3.7 million fans and over 700 million digital connections).”

Tourism Ireland’s targets for 2017 will see Northern Ireland welcome 2.15 million visitors, representing growth of +3.4% over 2016. 

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 Northern Ireland around the world next year, highlighting iconic experiences like Titanic Belfast and the Causeway Coastal Route. We will continue our successful partnership with HBO, to highlight Northern Ireland – through the exciting events of Game of Thrones – on the global stage. 

“Priority markets will include GB, Mainland Europe, North America, and Australia and Developing Markets. We will continue to monitor the implications of Brexit on outbound travel from GB. We are committed to ensuring that Northern Ireland continues to increase its share of the global travel business.” 

In 2017, 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. 
  Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland; Joan O’Shaughnessy, Vice Chair of Tourism Ireland; and Brian Ambrose, Chairman of Tourism Ireland, at the launch of Tourism Ireland’s marketing plans for 2017 in Belfast.

Notes To Editors

Since Tourism Ireland was established, 25.3 million overseas visitors have come to Northern Ireland (2012-2016), generating approximately £5.6 billion for the economy. 

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 Northern 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 Ulster-Scots and Irish Diaspora.
  • Key promotional themes: Tourism Ireland will promote our iconic holiday experiences, including 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 Northern Ireland 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. Ten Northern Ireland tourism companies joined us recently at World Travel Market in London, the world’s largest travel fair. During 2016, our partners overseas have included Titanic Belfast and National Trust – Giant’s Causeway (who took part in two of our sales missions, to China and to New Zealand/Australia); Lough Erne Resort and the Seamus Heaney HomePlace (who joined our ‘Jump into Ireland’ sales blitz in the US); and Hastings Hotels, City Hotel Derry, Stena Line and Beech Hill Country House Hotel (who took part in our ‘Flavours of Ireland’ B2B workshop in London). 
  • 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 for the Economy, airlines, airports and other key partners to identify and help close gaps in air services to Northern Ireland, stimulate new flights and jointly promote existing routes. 

Previous Press Release

28 Nov 2016

Tourism Ireland launches 2017 marketing plans