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11 Dec 2017

Tourism Ireland launches 2018 marketing plans (NI version)

2.31 million overseas visitors and £623 million overseas tourism revenue are targets for 2018

Tourism Ireland today launched details of its marketing plans to promote Northern Ireland overseas in 2018, at an event attended by tourism industry leaders from around Northern Ireland. 

2017 is set to be another record year for overseas tourism to Northern Ireland; by year end, some 2.26 million people will have visited Northern Ireland (+6% on 2016), spending £586 million (+8%). In 2018, Tourism Ireland aims to build on this year’s performance – growing overseas tourism revenue to £623 million (+6%), driven by more than 2.3 million overseas visitors.
 
Building on this year’s success and sustaining growth into the future is at the heart of Tourism Ireland’s strategy for the coming year. In 2018, Tourism Ireland will continue to promote major Northern Ireland themes and attractions around the world – including the Causeway Coastal Route, Titanic Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway and our National Trust properties. The organisation will highlight our world-class golf, in particular leveraging the prestigious 148th Open at Royal Portrush in 2019. 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’ and GoT Tapestry campaigns. Tourism Ireland will also capitalise on the 300th anniversary of the 1718 Ulster Scots migration to the United States. 
 
2017 performance
Latest estimates indicate that, by year end, almost 2.26 million people will have visited Northern Ireland, representing a +6% increase over 2016. Revenue generated by international visitors is expected to be £586 million, an +8% increase over last year. 

“2017 is set to be another record year for overseas tourism to Northern Ireland,” said Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism 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 £100 million in equivalent advertising value.” 

2018
In 2018, Tourism Ireland aims to grow overseas tourism revenue by +6%, to £623 million for the Northern Ireland economy, driven by over 2.3 million overseas visitors. 

“We are heading into 2018 in a position of some strength, based on the success of 2017. Our aim is to position Northern Ireland as a year-round, ‘must visit’ destination and to ensure that the contribution of overseas tourism to the local economy continues to expand,” said Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland.

“We will implement the actions arising from our comprehensive reviews of the US and German markets. We will position Northern Ireland as a great staycation option in the GB market, highlighting the value for money. And, of course, screen tourism will remain a priority, as we continue to highlight Northern Ireland through the exciting events of Game of Thrones on the global stage. We are committed to ensuring that Northern Ireland continues to increase its share of the global travel business.” 

Tourism Ireland will showcase Northern Ireland as a compelling ‘staycation’ option in GB, with easy access and lots to see, do and experience. The organisation will emphasise that a £ is a £ in Northern Ireland by focusing on a value message and integrating strong price-led offers.

In 2018, Tourism Ireland will continue to work with Tourism NI, tour operators, air and sea carriers, airports and sea ports, to promote Northern Ireland right throughout the year. The organisation 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. 

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Joan O’Shaughnessy, Chairman of Tourism Ireland; and Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, at the launch of Tourism Ireland’s marketing plans for 2018 in Belfast. 

Notes To Editors

Since Tourism Ireland was established, 27.6 million overseas visitors have come to Northern Ireland, generating just over £6 billion for the economy. 

Tourism Ireland’s focus in 2018
Tourism Ireland has identified a number of strategic areas to underpin its promotional activity in 2018. 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 will continue to maximise holiday revenue through investment in Mainland Europe and North America. We will implement actions arising from our comprehensive reviews of the US and German markets. We will optimise investment in Australia and will exploit new access opportunities from Asia and the Middle East to grow business from our emerging markets of high potential. 
     
  • New global ad campaign: We will develop an inspiring new global advertising campaign, to refresh and reinvigorate the presentation of Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland overseas, for roll-out in 2019 and beyond.
     
  • Digital and social media: In 2018, Tourism Ireland will continue to leverage its strength in digital and social media. We will make a step-change in our digital marketing capability by undertaking a significant ‘refresh’ of our international website, Ireland.com, to increase the site’s appeal to prospective visitors and to drive over 4 million referrals to our partners’ websites; and by implementing a new data-management platform to enable more targeted and personalised digital communications. 
    Tourism Ireland is now the fourth most popular tourism board in the world on Facebook (4.1 million fans), number four on Twitter (451,000 followers) and number three on YouTube (over 35 million views). Tourism Ireland’s international website, www.Ireland.com, attracted a record 19.37 million visitors in 2017.
     
  • Target audiences: We will intensify our focus on our key ‘culturally curious’ audience (discerning travellers, aged 45+, who want to expand their horizons by exploring landscapes and getting under the skin of local heritage and culture), who have the strongest propensity to visit Northern Ireland. We will reach our ‘social energiser’ audience (younger travellers, seeking to enjoy a fun time with friends in places that are new, unique and vibrant) in markets where significant potential exists, including North America, Britain, France and Spain. And, Tourism Ireland will also target some niche segments – including golfers, business and incentive visitors, as well as the Ulster-Scots (in particular, capitalising on the 300th anniversary of the 1718 Ulster Scots migration to the United States). 
     
  • 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. 
     
  • 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. 
     
  • 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 around the world, worth an estimated £100 million. 
     
  • Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening 2018: 2018 will mark the ninth 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.