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Wild Atlantic Way To Lead €12bn Tourism Drive

Published on Dec 3 2013 2:35 PM in General Industry

Wild Atlantic Way To Lead €12bn Tourism Drive

The Atlantic Coast is to be at the forefront of a marketing drive by Tourism Ireland to bring in more than 25 million visitors to Ireland over the next three years.

Yesterday, Tourism Ireland launched details of its marketing plans to promote the island of Ireland overseas in 2014 and beyond, at an event attended by Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar and over 600 tourism industry leaders from around Ireland. The organisation aims to build on this year’s growth in overseas tourism and to welcome 25.6 million visitors to the island over the coming three years – contributing some €12.6 billion to the economies, north and south. Building on recent successes and sustaining growth into the future is at the heart of this ambitious three-year journey. The plans will see Tourism Ireland prioritise those markets that offer the best return on investment in terms of holiday visitors and revenue i.e. North America and Mainland Europe.

Ireland’s ‘best prospect’ visitors will be targeted more closely, with distinctive holiday experiences, events and special offers tailored to their interests and designed to trigger their ‘must go now’ impulses.

Tourism Ireland will get them talking about Ireland among their colleagues and friends before then sharing those conversations online by harnessing the growing power of social media, as well as the most effective digital and traditional channels, to deliver regular ‘new news’ about Ireland.

Currently, the marketing department of Tourism Ireland is punching well above its weight in terms of social media. It's Youtube channel has the largest following of any international tourist board, with over 10 million visitors. It is ranked second amongst the world's tourist boards for the number of Facebook friends, with 1.9 million, and third in the twitter rankings with 103,000 followers.

This was an invaluable strength when it came to spreading the viral images of over 70 world landmarks turning green on St Patrick's Day.

2014 looks set to be another exciting year for tourism, with major events like Limerick City of Culture, the Grande Partenza (or ‘Big Start’) of the Giro d’Italia, as well as the Croke Park Classic, when the University of Central Florida takes on Penn State in their college football season opener. Promoting the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s first long-distance touring route stretching all the way from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal to Kinsale in Cork, will be a major focus of Tourism Ireland’s activity around the globe in 2014. Speaking at the launch, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, said that the tourism industry "is firmly on the right track and growing again. There has been a 16% increase in overseas visits since the change in government. Helped by The Gathering this year, we have seen record visitor numbers from North America, and a 26% increase in air capacity from the US and Canada. Key Government measures like the 9& VAT tourism rate and the suspended air travel tax will help us to build on this over the next three years. Next year, we have new initiatives like the Wild Atlantic Way; and we will host the Giro d’Italia cycle race and the biggest American college football game ever held in Ireland.”

2013 performance

Latest estimates indicate that, by year end, eight million people will have visited the island of Ireland in 2013, representing a 7.2% increase over 2012, with growth recorded from all market areas. Revenue generated by international visitors is expected to be approximately €3.64 billion, a 6% increase over last year.

Gibbons predicts that 2013 will be "a record year for visitor numbers from North America, Germany, France and Spain, as well as from our long-haul markets – with Australia and New Zealand in particular driving that growth.

"This year, we rolled out our ‘GB – Path to Growth’ strategy, targeting new audiences in Britain; so the return to growth in British visitor numbers is also good news," he added.

"The major focus of Tourism Ireland’s promotions throughout the year has been the Gathering Ireland, the biggest and most ambitious tourism-led event ever held in Ireland. Tourism Ireland undertook a packed programme of promotions right throughout the year, to highlight the Gathering to the 70 million people across the world who feel linked by family, friends or otherwise with Ireland.” 2014 and beyond

Tourism Ireland’s targets for 2014-16 will see the island of Ireland welcome 8.9 million visitors per year by 2016, representing growth of 12% over 2013. This will include almost 4.3 million holidaymakers (+15% over 2013).

Commenting on the year ahead, Gibbons said that a major focus will be placed on marketing the Wild Atlantic Way.

"We believe this exciting new tourism experience – showcasing the spectacular scenery and unique culture of the west coast – will have tremendous appeal in our markets around the world.”  Access developments for next year include new Aer Lingus flights from San Francisco, Toronto, Mainland Europe and Great Britain; new Irish Ferries sailings from Holyhead and Cherbourg; Ryanair’s expansion from Mainland Europe and Britain; as well as other new air routes like Westjet’s flight from Newfoundland in Canada. Emerging markets of high potential will also be targeted, including the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries. Tourism Ireland will have representation in Brazil and Russia for the first time ever in 2014.

© 2013 - Hospitality Ireland Magazine by Enda Dowling

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