Tourism Ireland Marketing Launch in Belfast, 11th January 2024

Tourism Ireland launched details of its marketing strategy and plans to promote Northern Ireland overseas in 2024, at an event attended by hundreds of tourism industry leaders from around Northern Ireland. The target is to increase overseas tourism revenue for Northern Ireland by an average of 6.5% year on year to 2030. 

Karen Patterson introduced the event with the opening speaker being Ian Snowden, acting Permanent Secretary from the Department for the Economy. He talked about the increased importance of tourism to the economy, especially while it is recovering from the pandemic, and how the Department is currently engaging with the Home Office to mitigate the impacts of the ETA on visitors crossing the land border. He also emphasised the additional £6m that had been allocated to Tourism Ireland (£4.6m) and Tourism Northern Ireland (£1.4m) from the December monitoring round which will be used to boost marketing campaigns during Q1. 

Alice Mansergh, Chief Executive Designate, Tourism Ireland then provided highlights of the 2023 Campaign which was the first full year of trading for tourism since the pandemic, and was aimed at recovery. 2023 highlights included awareness, year on year recovery, hotel occupancy, air access and award winning destination. Challenges included cost of living, competitiveness, global uncertainties, hotel room capacity and ease of travel. The aim of the 2024 campaign is to increase the value of overseas tourism to the island of Ireland, sustainably supporting economies, communities and the environment and spread the benefit of overseas tourism across Northern Ireland by inspiring visitors and strengthening strategic partnerships always with a values-led approach. This will be done through growing non-peak seasonal spend by expanding people’s bucket lists, cross sell nearby hidden gems, Northern Ireland access and festivals. 

Shane Clarke, Director of Corporate Services, Policy and Northern Ireland, Tourism Ireland discussed the All Ireland Sustainable Tourism Assurance Scheme which aims to promote sustainable ways to enjoy the island of Ireland.  This includes an agile approach to global partnerships based on revenue per carbon footprint, promote lower carbon access routes and inspire with sustainable itineraries on the island. The scheme is a collaboration between Tourism Ireland, Tourism NI and Failte Ireland. 

Elmagh Killen, Head of Brand and Marketing Communications within Tourism Ireland presented on inspiring visitors with the focus being value added tourism traits including stay longer, enjoy a spread of regions and seasons and memorable experiences vs low cost. This means concentrating on:

  • Awareness – publicity focusing on regional and seasonal messaging (1.5bn opportunities to see), advertising (1bn opportunities to see) and maximising opportunities with visiting journalists, press releases and influencers. The aim is to expand on the Fill your Heart with Ireland campaign through video-on-demand, social media, outdoor and in print media and will be reflected across Tourism Ireland’s international website, Ireland.com.
  • Consideration – by driving the brand uplift by 5%.
  • Research – increase deep research visits to Ireland.com by 9%.
  • Purchase – industry wide.
  • Advocacy – increase followers by 7% year on year with over 2 billion connections.

Siobhan McManamy, Director of Markets, Tourism Ireland, concentrated on strengthening partnerships:

  • Air and sea access sets the stage with new routes and an increase in air seats.
  • Putting Northern Ireland tourism businesses on the global stage – 25,000 meetings.
  • Growing business events/business tourism – 6,000 business events/meetings.
  • Golf and activities – including The Open at Royal Portrush in 2025 and the Ryder Cup at Adare Manor in 2027. 
  • A video highlighting Rory Best, participating in different sports such as golf and mountain biking, highlighted some of the different activities available in Northern Ireland.
  • A target of 250 industry businesses in the year ahead.
  • Opportunities along with sharing offers, stories and content and joining Tourism Ireland on overseas platforms can all be found on the Tourism Ireland.com website. 

John McGrillen, Chief Executive, Tourism NI reminded us of the Tourism Strategy submissions and also collaborative activity:

  • B2B promotional platforms – Meet the Buyer 2024
  • Wild Atlantic Way-Causeway Coastal Route connections
  • City and Growth Deals
  • New Programmes – My Tourism NI (e-Learning platform), Make it Here in Tourism and Hospitality, Innovate Tourism and Tourism Data Hub 

Karen Patterson finished the plenary session by providing a short summary of the 2024 marketing plans:

  • Increase value of overseas tourism to the island of Ireland
  • Supporting economies and community
  • Sustaining environment
  • Inspiring visitors
  • Strengthening partnerships
  • World class team and culture

Following the plenary session, there was a short break and then one to one meetings with members of Tourism Ireland (pre-arranged) and three break out sessions (pre-booked) on marketing plans in Great Britain, United States of America and France and Germany. Please see below for a summary of the marketing plans for Great Britain.

Great Britain

Julie Wakley, Head of Great Britain

Value of Overseas Tourism: State of the Season

GB visitors: 

  • Align well with Valued Adding Tourism Traits 
  • Visit all year round 
  • Visit our regions 
  • Lifetime value of the ‘repeat visitor’ 
  • Sustainable travel

Value of Overseas Tourism: Great Britain 2024 Outlook

Opportunities:

  • Desire to travel is strong 
  • Good air and sea access 
  • Close to home / CTA 
  • VFR and repeat visitors

Challenges:

  • Competitive market 
  • Cost of living 
  • Booking windows are short 
  • Hotel rates and availability

Key Moments 2024

  • January – March: Kickstart and Fill Your Heart Campaign Burst 1 (NI co-op campaign, Celtic Connections, Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Week)
  • April – May: Fill Your Heart with Ireland Campaign ( Belfast 2024, Season of Green, BTTS)
  • June – August: Fill Your Heart with Ireland Always On – digital and social activity
  • September – December: Fill your Heart with Ireland Campaign Burst 2 (Home of Halloween, BMW PGA, World Travel Market, Ireland Meets the West End)

Inspiring Visitors: Fill Your Heart with Ireland Campaign

  • Kickstart: TV, broadcast video on demand, cinema, digital, social
  • Feb and Mar: TV, broadcast video on demand, digital, social 
  • Sep and Oct: Driving season extension

Inspiring Visitors: Organic Social Channels

  • A snapshot of Northern Ireland in 60 seconds
  • Discover Ireland snapshots

Inspiring Visitors: Partnerships with Access Partners

  • Easyjet, Ryanair, Stenaline, British Airways, P&O Ferries, Loganair

Inspiring Visitors: Partnerships with Metasearch Platforms

  • Trip Advisor, Viator, Skyscanner

Inspiring Visitors: Publicity

  • The Sun, The Mirror, Exploring, The Great Outdoors, Coast, Culture Trip, Travel Weekly, The Telegraph 

Inspiring Visitors: Influencers and Podcasts

  • National Geographic Traveller, BBC Countryfile, National Trust

Supporting Economies and Communities

  • NI Eags: The Telegraph Partnership  – featuring Rory Best
  • NI Eags: The Telegraph Partnership  – The Times and The Sunday Times Scotland

Supporting Economies and Communities: Partnerships with Sea Carriers

  • P&O Ferries, Stenaline

Supporting Economies and Communities: Golf

  • Sky Sports, Golf Monthly, National Club Golfer, The Scottish Sun, Golf Magic, Bet Fred British Masters, BMW PGA Championship, YourGolfTravel, Golfbreaks.com, Golf Today

Strengthening Partnerships: Trade and Industry Platforms

  • Ireland meets the West End, Celtic Connections, World Travel Market

Strengthening Partnerships: How you can work with us

  • Discover our overseas opportunities and how you can get involved – www.tourismireland.com/opportunities

To access the full marketing presentations for Great Britain, United States and France and Germany, please click HERE.