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07 Jun 2019

Tourism Minister unveils new strategy to grow tourism from Britain

New strategy targets +25% growth in revenue from British holidaymakers by 2022

Significant ‘economic lifetime value’ of British holidaymakers offers major opportunity

Great Britain offers considerable potential for Irish tourism, according to a new strategy launched today by Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD. The strategy has been developed by Tourism Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism NI, in close collaboration with a wide range of industry partners, at home and in Britain.

The strategy sets out an ambitious target to grow revenue from British holidaymakers by +25%, to €705 million, by 2022 – while ensuring continued regional growth and season extension. 

At a time when 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. 

Britain continues to be a very important market for tourism to the island of Ireland, delivering 44% of all overseas visitors and around 25% of all overseas tourism revenue. In 2018, we welcomed around 4.7 million British visitors to the island of Ireland. Revenue from British holidaymakers to Ireland is up +53% since 2012. 

The strategy provides new insights on:
-    why British holidaymakers choose 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 British holidaymaker. 
Unlocking the lifetime value of British holidaymakers:
British holidaymakers return to the island of Ireland time and time again. A key finding of this strategy includes a change in behaviour when British holidaymakers return to Ireland. 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 British 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 British holidaymakers;
-    tailoring communications more specifically to the needs of the British holidaymaker;
-    creating hub experiences with compelling reasons to venture beyond Dublin and Belfast; and
-    further developing appropriate access to, and within, the island of Ireland – to support short breaks. 

Minister Griffin said: “I am delighted to launch this new strategy which shows real opportunities to grow our tourism business from Great Britain significantly over the next few years. Notwithstanding the uncertainty around Brexit, Britain remains one of our most important tourism markets and I urge the tourism sector to get behind this new strategy and to work closely and proactively with Tourism Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland. In Budget 2019, Minister Ross and I secured an additional €35 million for tourism, which has allowed the tourism agencies to provide fresh impetus this year, in terms of both product development and marketing and to continue to promote and expand our tourism offering around the world. This new strategy to grow tourism from Britain will complement our efforts to grow tourism in a sustainable way, with its strong focus on regional growth and season extension.”

Stephen McNally, Deputy CEO of the Dalata Hotel Group and Chair of the GB Market Review, said: “The GB Market Review has been a great collaborative project, bringing together expertise from right across the tourism industry, both on the island of Ireland and in Great Britain. The three tourism agencies on the island of Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Northern Ireland and Tourism Ireland, have also worked really closely with our industry to deliver this plan with a vision right out to 2025.

“The GB holidaymaker ventures outside of the main cities and hotspots, which supports regional tourism growth and, most importantly, is key for tourism seasonal extension by visiting lesser-known locations throughout the year. I believe we have created an excellent plan to develop and nurture holidaymakers from one of our most important tourism providers onto the island of Ireland. The plan was developed very much aware of ongoing Brexit negotiations and the recommendations of our strategy remain valid and flexible pending the final outcome of the Brexit negotiations.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “As our nearest neighbour, Britain remains an extremely important market for tourism to the island of Ireland. We are aware that the uncertainty around Brexit, as well as currency fluctuations, have caused – and continue to cause – uncertainty, which is affecting travel demand. But, we also know that this is a market with a strong affinity with Ireland and it is the British holidaymaker’s propensity to visit Ireland 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 British holidaymaker revenue, between now and 2022.”

Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, said: “Not only is the British market important because of its scale, British visitors are more likely to come to Ireland year-round than other visitors into Ireland. More than that, when they do come, they travel more widely around the country than other visitors. This increases the importance of the role that our British visitors play in sustaining the tourism lifeblood of our regional economies. 

“The strategy announced today outlines clear actions in how both tourism agencies, and the industry alike, can develop and market Irish tourism in a way that will protect and grow our tourism revenue from Britain as we face the continuing and escalating challenges of Brexit.”  
  Tourism Minister Brendan Griffin; Joan O’Shaughnessy, Chairman of Tourism Ireland; Stephen McNally, Deputy CEO of the Dalata Hotel Group and Chair of the GB Market Review; Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland; Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland; and Julie Wakley, Tourism Ireland’s Head of Britain, at the Dublin launch of a new strategy to grow tourism from Britain.

Notes To Editors

  • In 2018, we welcomed around 4.7 million British visitors to the island of Ireland. Within the overall visitor numbers, we welcomed around 1.7 million British holidaymakers, spending around €554 million. 
  • 42% of British holidaymakers visit between October and March.
  • The new strategy to grow tourism from Britain was developed using an evidence-based approach, which included:
    • a comprehensive review of existing data and research on actual behaviours of British visitors to Ireland;
    • bespoke research into British holidaymakers’ needs and motivations to visit the island of Ireland, among potential and actual holidaymakers from Britain; 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.​​​