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29 Nov 2018

Tourism Ireland launches 2019 marketing plans (NI version)

+8% growth in overseas tourism revenue is target for 2019

New global TV, cinema and online campaign revealed

Tourism Ireland to leverage ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunities for Northern Ireland

Tourism Ireland today launched details of its marketing strategy and plans to promote Northern Ireland overseas in 2019, at an event attended by hundreds of tourism industry leaders from around Northern Ireland. Details of Tourism Ireland’s first new global advertising campaign in seven years were revealed at the event.
2018 is set to be another record year for overseas tourism to Northern Ireland; by year end, some 2.23 million people will have visited Northern Ireland (+3% on 2017), spending £589 million (+4%). In 2019, Tourism Ireland aims to build on this year’s performance – growing overseas tourism revenue to £639 million (+8%), driven by more than 2.33 million overseas visitors.

Tourism Ireland’s new global campaign – ‘Fill your Heart with Ireland’ – will launch next month in the United States, GB, France and Germany. From January 2019, it will be rolled out in over 20 markets around the globe. It will include TV, cinema, print, outdoor and online ads, as well as content for social platforms. The campaign will feature less visited attractions and locations – including The Gobbins and Devenish Island – and aims to attract visitors all year round.

2019 presents Tourism Ireland with some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to showcase Northern Ireland around the world. These include the final series of Game of Thrones, which will air in spring 2019. Tourism Ireland is planning a year-long programme of activity to fully maximise every opportunity from Game of Thrones, in close co-operation with HBO and Tourism NI. A brand new campaign will be rolled out to coincide with the final series, highlighting Northern Ireland as ‘Game of Thrones Territory’ to fans everywhere; and Tourism Ireland will also promote HBO’s new legacy visitor attractions. 

Tourism Ireland will also take every opportunity to highlight The 148th Open at Royal Portrush. Promotional activity will encourage those attending the event to extend their stay in Northern Ireland and will also showcase Northern Ireland as a host of world-class events and, by extension, a superb golf and holiday destination. 

The significant increase in bedroom capacity in both Belfast and Londonderry also presents Tourism Ireland with a significant opportunity. City break campaigns will be rolled out in Q1 and Q4 next year, to drive business to both cities.

Tourism Ireland will re-develop its entire suite of Ireland.com websites, which attracts more than 20 million visits a year, to ensure its digital marketing continues to be ‘best in class’ in the 2020s. The new technology will also allow Tourism Ireland to re-target visitors and potential visitors with personalised messages and offers, designed to appeal to their specific interests.

Tourism Ireland will implement its US, German, emerging markets and GB market growth strategies. This will see the organisation expand its operations in China – with new representation in Hong Kong – and increase its marketing activity in the US and Canada, as well as in emerging markets like Japan (particularly around the Rugby World Cup). 

2018 performance
2018 is set to be another record year for overseas tourism to Northern Ireland. Latest estimates indicate that, by year end, around 2.23 million people will have visited Northern Ireland, representing a +3% increase over 2017. Revenue generated by international visitors is expected to be £589 million, an +4% increase over last year, helping to sustain around 65,000 valuable jobs in communities across Northern Ireland. 

“2018 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 £104 million in equivalent advertising value.” 

2019
In 2019, Tourism Ireland aims to grow overseas tourism revenue by +8%, to £639 million for the Northern Ireland economy, driven by over 2.33 million overseas visitors. 

“We are heading into 2019 in a position of some strength, based on the success of 2018,” said Niall Gibbons. “Our aim is to spread this success throughout the year and right around Northern Ireland – ensuring we maintain our renowned welcome and superb visitor experience. 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.

“Tourism Ireland will be pulling out all the stops to leverage the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities of the final series of Game of Thrones and The 148th Open at Royal Portrush. Our new campaign, ‘Fill Your Heart with Ireland’, also presents Tourism Ireland with a great opportunity to drive continued growth to Northern Ireland next year and to encourage visitors to travel off-peak. It will feature locations that have been less visited by overseas visitors and will also highlight outdoor activities like cycling, walking and kayaking. We are confident that our new campaign will set Northern Ireland apart from our competitor destinations and help deliver another record year for overseas tourism in 2019.”


2019 will undoubtedly present some challenges – not least the continued uncertainty around Brexit, which may impact on consumer confidence and, in turn, on outbound travel from GB. Other challenges include economic and geo-political uncertainty, as well as the potential for oil price inflation.
  Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland; and Joan O’Shaughnessy, Chairman of Tourism Ireland, at the Belfast launch of Tourism Ireland’s marketing strategy and plans for 2019.

Notes To Editors

Tourism Ireland’s focus in 2019

Tourism Ireland has identified a number of strategic areas to underpin its promotional activity in 2019. These include:

  • Leverage once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for Northern Ireland: The final series of Game of Thrones will air in spring 2019; Tourism Ireland is planning a year-long programme of activity to maximise this opportunity. And, Tourism Ireland will also take every opportunity to highlight The 148th Open at Royal Portrush.
  • Sustainable destination marketing: We now welcome more visitors from around the globe than ever before. Tourism of this scale provides great benefits to our economy; however, there is an opportunity to spread this success across the year and more equitably. Not only will this benefit more local communities, it will also ensure we continue to deliver our renowned welcome and outstanding visitor experience. Tourism Ireland has developed a set of sustainability principles to guide its marketing programmes into the future. These include:
    • a greater focus on less visited attractions and locations that have overseas appeal, such as The Gobbins and Devenish Island.
    • driving business in the off-peak and shoulder seasons; and 
    • co-operative activity with carriers, industry partners and the travel trade overseas that drives either regional growth or season extension.
  • New global campaign: Tourism Ireland’s new global campaign – ‘Fill Your Heart With Ireland’ – will refresh and reinvigorate the presentation of Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland overseas. It aims to connect more emotionally with prospective visitors, by inviting them to ‘Fill Your Heart with Ireland’, with the promise that spending time here will help restore their lust for life. The campaign will feature a range of less visited attractions and locations and will highlight the passions that research shows motivate our target audience, such as landscapes and heritage; and will dial up activities like walking, cycling and kayaking. This is Tourism Ireland’s first major campaign in seven years; its ‘Jump Into Ireland’ campaign was developed in 2011. 
  • Digital and social media: In 2019, Tourism Ireland will continue to leverage its strength in digital and social media. The organisation will re-develop its international website, Ireland.com – for roll-out in 2020 – to ensure its digital marketing continues to be ‘best in class’ in the 2020s. The new technology will also allow Tourism Ireland to re-target visitors and potential visitors with personalised messages and offers, designed to appeal to their specific interests. Tourism Ireland is now the fourth most popular tourism board in the world on Facebook (4.3 million fans), number four on Twitter (504,000 followers) and number four on YouTube (49.3 million views).
  • International publicity: Tourism Ireland will 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, worth an estimated £104 million. 
  • Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening 2019: 2018 will mark the 10th 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.