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02 Dec 2019

Tourism Ireland launches 2020 marketing plans

~ Sustainable destination marketing principles underpin Tourism Ireland’s three-year strategy ~

Tourism Ireland today launched details of its new three-year strategy for 2020-2022 and its marketing plans to promote the island of Ireland overseas next year, at an event attended by Tourism Minister Brendan Griffin and around 500 tourism industry leaders from around the country.
The aim is to grow overseas tourism revenue to €6.54 billion (+13%) and visitor numbers to 12 million (+7%), by 2022.
The 2020-2022 strategy has been designed to be both flexible and sustainable – while delivering further growth in overseas tourism and supporting the industry across the island of Ireland. Tourism Ireland aims to spread the benefits of tourism more broadly across the island of Ireland on a year-round basis and to address the issues of capacity, to ensure the visitor experience continues to be world-class. The new strategy is built on a set of sustainable destination marketing principles.
Phase two of Tourism Ireland’s global campaign – ‘Fill Your Heart With Ireland’ – was revealed at today’s launch. As in phase one of the campaign, the new ad features less visited attractions and locations (including Trim Castle, Waterford Greenway, EPIC – the Irish Emigration Museum and Rathlin Island). From January 2020, the ‘Fill Your Heart With Ireland’ campaign will be rolled out in over 20 markets around the globe.
The period 2020-2022 will see Tourism Ireland transform its digital platforms and re-develop its entire suite of websites – which attracted more than 23 million visits this year – to ensure its digital marketing continues to be ‘best in class’ in the 2020s. It will use big data and artificial intelligence to reach potential visitors; this 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.
Speaking at the launch, Minister for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD, said: “I am delighted to be here today with Tourism Ireland, as they launch their strategy for 2020-2022 and marketing plans for next year. I have been hugely impressed by the hard work and dedication of the Tourism Ireland team at home and overseas during what has been a somewhat challenging year for tourism. While performance in the sector this year has been mixed, we are still in line to see a contribution of well over €5 billion to our economy from overseas tourists in 2019.
“Despite the challenges we have faced this year, we head into 2020 in a relatively strong position. The additional funding made available to Tourism Ireland at the end of 2019 will support accelerated tourism marketing initiatives aimed at mitigating the impacts of Brexit. In Budget 2020, Minister Ross and I secured an allocation of almost €186 million for tourism, up 10% on the 2019 allocation, which puts the sector in a strong position to grow next year. Earlier this year, on the recommendation of Minister Ross and I, the Government adopted revised performance targets for Irish tourism out to 2025. The primary target is to achieve €6.5 billion in revenue from overseas tourism by 2025. While this is a challenging target, we must seek to reach it in a way that is sustainable. I am glad to see that within Tourism Ireland’s plans for next year there is a strong focus on sustainability through spreading our tourism business more evenly around the entire island and encouraging more visitors in the off-season.” 
2019 performance
2019 has been a very mixed experience for Irish tourism, with weaker demand and the continued uncertainty around Brexit giving rise to consumer concern in Britain and some Mainland European markets. There’s also been a deterioration in air access capacity this year. Latest estimates indicate that, by year end, revenue generated by international visitors will be around €5.78 billion (-1.4% on last year), with some 11.17 million people having visited the island of Ireland (0%).

“In 2019 we’ve seen a continuing weak trend in Irish tourism – which has been reflected in the feedback from our industry partners, who’ve been experiencing weaker demand,” said Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland. “We’ve certainly seen the effects of the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit on travel to Ireland, with holidaymakers booking later and reducing their holiday budgets.
“Throughout 2019, 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 €350 million in equivalent advertising value.”
2020 will undoubtedly continue to present some challenges – not least the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, which is likely to continue to impact on consumer confidence and, in turn, on travel from Britain and some Mainland European markets. Other challenges may include economic and geo-political uncertainty, as well as constraints on the availability of aircraft (particularly relating to the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX).

While recognising the various risks and challenges, Tourism Ireland believes that growth in overseas tourism can be achieved. By 2022, the aim is to grow overseas tourism revenue to €6.54 billion (+13%) and visitor numbers to 12 million (+7%).
“It is not enough to simply target growth at all costs and our new, three-year strategy is built on a set of sustainable destination marketing principles,” said Niall Gibbons. “These principles will underpin all of Tourism Ireland’s activities and are reflected in our renewed emphasis on driving business to the regions and ensuring the benefits of tourism growth are distributed right around the island of Ireland, on a year-round basis. By applying these principles and through working with our partners on wider sustainability issues, we are confident that overseas tourism will help communities to prosper, while our overseas visitors continue to enjoy a great holiday experience.
“Tourism Ireland will continue to raise awareness of the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East around the world. We will highlight inspirational events like Taste the Island, Galway 2020 and Púca. Our aim is to spread the success of overseas tourism throughout the year and around the entire island of Ireland – ensuring we maintain our renowned welcome and superb visitor experience.”
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland; Tourism Minister Brendan Griffin; and Joan O’Shaughnessy, Chairman of Tourism Ireland, at the Dublin launch of Tourism Ireland’s marketing strategy for 2020-2022 and its marketing plans for 2020.

Notes To Editors

Tourism Ireland’s Sustainable Destination Marketing Principles include:
  • Aligning promotional activity with capacity i.e. increasing the focus on locations and attractions that have capacity at peak visitor times. This is embodied in Tourism Ireland’s ‘Fill Your Heart With Ireland’ campaign.
  • Highlighting those less well-known attractions and events that appeal to international visitors and have the capacity to cater for increased numbers.
  • Driving more business to our regions: activity will include prioritising regional messages in global campaigns, working with airports and carriers to stimulate regional air access routes and a new ‘twinning’ initiative (where each overseas market will ‘twin with’ or place a greater focus on a specific region in Ireland).
  • Increasing focus on season extension: this will involve leveraging festivals and events such as Taste the Island, Púca, St Patrick’s Festival, Galway 2020, TradFest and Wexford Festival Opera, among others, to drive more non-peak travel. Urban centres will be promoted as great off-season, city break destinations.
  • Prioritising co-operative marketing activity that is sure to drive regional and Northern Ireland growth or season extension.
  • Heightened collaboration with stakeholders and sister agencies, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism NI, on sustainability.
Tourism Ireland’s focus in 2020:
Tourism Ireland has identified a number of other strategic areas to underpin its promotional activity in 2020. These include:
  • Market diversification and who we’re targeting: Tourism Ireland will continue to promote the island of Ireland in both established and key emerging markets, to mitigate risk and ensure long-term market diversification.
  • As the organisation’s marketing techniques evolve, so do the opportunities for more nuanced customer segmentation. In 2020, Tourism Ireland will review its core segments – ‘culturally curious’ and ‘social energisers’. It will also assess the future potential of special niche segments and special interest groups – including soft adventure, Diaspora and LGBT+. It will continue to grow Ireland’s share of luxury travel from key markets.
  • Global campaign: Tourism Ireland’s global campaign – ‘Fill Your Heart With Ireland’ – will continue to refresh and reinvigorate the presentation of 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.
  • Transformative digital marketing: In 2020, Tourism Ireland will continue to leverage its strength in digital and social media. The organisation will re-develop its international website,, to ensure its digital marketing continues to be ‘best in class’ in the 2020s. It will use big data and artificial intelligence to target the customer with the next best marketing communication, to persuade them to holiday on the island of Ireland. 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.
  • Increased sales platforms for industry and trade: Tourism Ireland will increase the number of face-to-face sales platforms on offer for Irish industry and overseas trade partners. Additional B2B activities will include adventure travel shows in the US, regional roadshows in Germany and new platforms to target luxury travellers. There will also be an increased number of digital sales leads available to industry and trade.
  • Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening: 2020 will mark the 10th anniversary of Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening initiative – when 500+ iconic landmarks and sites around the world will be illuminated in green to celebrate our national day.
In March 2020, Tourism Ireland will develop a new ‘Green Tuesday’ St Patrick’s Day promotion – a time-limited ‘mega’ event linked to our Global Greening campaign, encouraging carriers, industry and trade to provide off-peak special offers.