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01 Jun 2017

Tourism Ireland announces new Head of Great Britain

Tourism Ireland has announced the appointment of Julie Wakley as Head of Great Britain, one of our most important tourism markets. 

Julie joined Tourism Ireland in January 2016, as Deputy Head of Great Britain – Consumer Marketing and, since then, she has been instrumental in developing and delivering innovative marketing campaigns and establishing strong relationships with key stakeholders, in Britain and around the island of Ireland. 

Prior to joining Tourism Ireland, Julie was the Marketing Manager for BBC Politics & Current Affairs, from 2013 to 2016, where she led the marketing activity for BBC’s politics output on TV, radio and online during the Scottish Referendum in 2014 and the General Election 2015. Before that, she was part of the team responsible for the UK Government's 'GREAT Britain’ campaign, promoting trade and tourism in international markets to maximise economic benefits during 2012, the year of the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It was this experience of working with key tourism bodies, including VisitBritain, VisitScotland and English Heritage, that sparked Julie’s interest in the tourism sector. She also worked as Account Director at the Central Office of Information (COI), the UK Government’s marketing and communication agency, for five years, developing and delivering campaigns to change consumer behaviour for the Department of Health and the Department for Education, among others.  

Commenting on the appointment, Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons said: “I am delighted to welcome Julie Wakley to this key strategic role in our organisation, following an extensive external competition. She joins Tourism Ireland at a time when we are facing a number of challenges in Great Britain, not least Brexit and its impact on travel. Julie brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience in international marketing and a very strong track record of achievement. She will play a pivotal role in implementing our strategy in the important British market.” 

Julie said: “This is a fantastic role and an exciting opportunity. I take up this post at a time of great challenge in the British market and we have some exciting plans under way for 2017, working with our partners in Britain and on the island of Ireland, to inspire British holidaymakers to choose the island of Ireland.”

Latest CSO figures confirm a drop in British visitors (-6.5%) for the first quarter of 2017, reflecting the economic situation and the effect of Brexit. The drop in the value of sterling has made holidays and short breaks here more expensive for British visitors; and economic uncertainty is making British travellers more cautious about their discretionary spending. This is impacting on travel to Ireland. Tourism Ireland will continue to monitor developments around Brexit closely, to better understand and plan for its implications. Competitiveness and value for money remain a more important message than ever throughout 2017. 

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Notes To Editors

  • Tourism Ireland is the organisation responsible for promoting the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination.
  • Tourism is the island of Ireland’s largest indigenous industry; responsible for in excess of 4% of GNP in the Republic of Ireland and employing approximately 220,000 people.
  • In 2016, we welcomed approximately 10.5 million overseas visitors to the island of Ireland, delivering revenue of about €5.4 billion.
  • Tourism Ireland’s international website is www.ireland.com, 29 market sites available in 11 language versions around the world, which attracted 19.37 million visitors in 2016.