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06 Jun 2019

New strategy unveiled to grow tourism from GB (NI version)

Target is +33% growth in revenue from GB holidaymakers by 2022

Great Britain offers considerable potential for Northern Ireland tourism, according to a new strategy launched today in Belfast. The strategy has been developed by Tourism Ireland, Tourism Northern Ireland and Fáilte Ireland, in close collaboration with a wide range of industry partners, at home and in GB.
 
The strategy sets out an ambitious target to grow revenue from GB holidaymakers by +33%, to £116 million, by 2022 – while ensuring continued regional growth and season extension.
 
At a time when Great Britain is facing ongoing uncertainty, the new strategy provides up-to-date insights, to ensure we are best placed to tackle the challenges and to make the most out of future opportunities. It has been developed cognisant of the ongoing Brexit negotiations; and the recommendations of the strategy remain valid and can be flexed under all potential outcomes of the negotiations.
 
GB continues to be a very important market for tourism to Northern Ireland, delivering around 64% of all overseas visitors and around 56% of all overseas tourism revenue. In 2018, we welcomed 1.425 million GB visitors to Northern Ireland. Revenue from GB holidaymakers to Northern Ireland is up +85% since 2012.
 
The strategy provides new insights on:
  • why GB holidaymakers choose Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland; and
  • how those holidaymakers currently behave when they’re here – both on a first-time visit and when they return.
It also shows how we can tap into these insights to unlock the economic lifetime value of a GB holidaymaker.
 
Unlocking the lifetime value of GB holidaymakers:
GB holidaymakers return here time and time again. A key finding of this strategy includes a change in behaviour when GB holidaymakers return. Repeat holidaymakers tend to be more adventurous; they are more likely to come for longer, spend more and venture beyond our cities into the regions. As many GB holidaymakers come back time and time again, this makes them an important group to nurture.

 
Key priorities to ensure success will include:
  • identifying and building ongoing relationships with GB holidaymakers;
  • tailoring communications more specifically to the needs of the GB holidaymaker;
  • creating hub experiences with compelling reasons to venture beyond Belfast and Dublin; and
  • further developing appropriate access to, and within, Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland – to support short breaks.
Katy Best, Commercial and Marketing Director for Belfast City Airport and Vice Chair of the GB Market Review, said: “I am delighted to have led this GB Market Review, which has identified the significant economic lifetime value of the GB holidaymaker The review has been a truly collaborative project, bringing together expertise from across the tourism industry, both on the island of Ireland and in GB. Capitalising on the findings of the review is the next step and will require commitment from the whole tourism industry across the island of Ireland, the tourism agencies, our partners in GB, the Department for the Economy and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, as well as other government departments inNorthern Ireland and Ireland. I look forward to working together to achieve this success.”
 
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “As our nearest neighbour, GB remains an extremely important market for tourism to Northern Ireland. We are aware that the uncertainty around Brexit has caused – and continues to cause – uncertainty, which is affecting travel demand. But, we also know that this is a market with a strong affinity with Northern Ireland and it is the GB holidaymaker’s propensity to visit many times that makes their lifetime value so significant to our tourism economy. Our aim is to increase holidaymaker revenue – while continuing to drive regional growth and season extension. I am confident that our new, focused strategy will deliver on the challenging targets we have set for growth in GB holidaymaker revenue, between now and 2022.”

John McGrillen, CEO of Tourism NI, said: “As one of our closest markets, Great Britain is crucial to the success of tourism in Northern Ireland. In 2018, GB visitors contributed £900,000 per day to the local economy. Overall spend by GB visitors rose by 3% and GB holiday trips grew by 10% and account for one quarter of all GB trips taken in NI last year.
 
“Recent multi-million pound investments in our tourism infrastructure, from ICC Belfast, HMS Caroline and Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, and in major events such as The 148th Open at Royal Portrush, are fuelling the success of tourism in Northern Ireland. The GB Tourism Strategy brings a collective focus to ensuring this growth continues.”
 
Katy Best, Commercial and Marketing Director of Belfast City Airport and Vice Chair of the GB Market Review; Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland; Joan O'Shaughnessy, Chairman of Tourism Ireland; and John McGrillen, CEO of Tourism NI, at the Belfast launch of a new strategy to grow tourism from GB.

Notes To Editors

  • In 2018, we welcomed 1.425 million GB visitors to Northern Ireland, spending over £327 million. Within the overall visitor numbers, we welcomed 352,187 GB holidaymakers, spending over £92 million.
  • 42% of GB holidaymakers visit between October and March.
  • The new strategy to grow tourism from GB was developed using an evidence-based approach, which included:
    • a comprehensive review of existing data and research on actual behaviours of GB visitors to Ireland;
    • bespoke research into GB holidaymakers’ needs and motivations to visit Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland, among potential and actual holidaymakers from GB; and
    • consultation with tourism industry professionals and thought leaders in four workshops held on the island of Ireland and in London, to identify our strengths and challenges.