~ Strategy targets +15% growth in overseas tourism revenue ~
Tourism Ireland today launched details of its new three-year strategy for 2020-2022 and its marketing plans to promote Northern Ireland overseas next year, at an event attended by hundreds of tourism industry leaders from around Northern Ireland.
The aim is to grow overseas tourism revenue to £658 million (+15%) and visitor numbers to 2.57 million (+13%), 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 Northern Ireland. Tourism Ireland aims to spread the benefits of tourism more broadly across Northern Ireland on a year-round basis, to ensure the visitor experience continues to be world-class. The new strategy is built on a set of sustainable destination marketing principles.
In 2020, Tourism Ireland will roll out the new destination brand for Northern Ireland – Embrace a Giant Spirit – around the world. An extensive programme of trade, media and consumer communications will be rolled out in all of our main markets, giving Northern Ireland ‘stand-out’ on the international stage. Tourism Ireland will also continue to leverage the legacy of this summer’s hugely successful Open at Royal Portrush, reminding golfers everywhere about our world-class golf.
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 Hillsborough Castle, Ballycastle, Rathlin Island and the walled city of Derry). 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 Ireland.com 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.
2019 is set to be another record year for overseas tourism to Northern Ireland. Latest estimates indicate that, by year end, around 2.265 million people will have visited Northern Ireland, representing a +2% increase over 2018. Revenue generated by international visitors is expected to be £570 million, also a +2% increase over last year, helping to sustain around 65,000 valuable jobs in communities across Northern Ireland.
“2019 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. Tourism Ireland pulled out all the stops to leverage the opportunities presented by the final series of Game of Thrones, as well as the superb 148th Open at Royal Portrush. 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 £157 million in equivalent advertising value.”
2020 will undoubtedly 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 GB 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 £658 million (+15%) and visitor numbers to 2.57 million (+13%).
“We’re delighted to roll out ‘Northern Ireland – Embrace A Giant Spirit’ in our key markets around the world in 2020, through an extensive programme of trade, media and consumer communications,” said Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland. “It’s a really exciting time for Northern Ireland tourism and this new brand presents us with an excellent opportunity to get real ‘stand-out’ for Northern Ireland on the international stage. Our message is that there has never been a better time to visit Northern Ireland.
“Looking to 2020 and beyond, 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,” continued Niall Gibbons. “These principles will underpin all of Tourism Ireland’s activities and are reflected in our renewed emphasis on driving business beyond the cities and established tourism ‘honeypots’ and ensuring the benefits of tourism growth are distributed right around Northern 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.”
Joan O’Shaughnessy, Chairman of Tourism Ireland; and Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, at the Belfast 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 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).
- Increasing focus on season extension: this will involve leveraging festivals and events such as the Home of St Patrick Festival, Belfast International Arts Festival, Derry Halloween and Friendship Four, 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 growth or season extension.
- Heightened collaboration with stakeholders and sister agencies, Tourism NI and Fáilte Ireland, 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 Northern 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 our 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 Northern 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, Ireland.com, 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 in Northern 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 Northern Ireland industry and overseas trade partners. Additional B2B activities will include new opportunities on the west coast of the US 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 St Patrick’s 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.