Kilkenny tourism companies attend launch of Tourism Ireland’s 2020 marketing plans

Mary Cody

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Mary Cody

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mary.cody@kilkennypeople.ie

Kilkenny tourism companies attend launch of Tourism Ireland’s 2020 marketing plans

Fiona Nugent, Tourism Ireland; and Joe O'Connell, Jerpoint Park, at the Dublin launch of Tourism Ireland's 2020 marketing plans.

Tourism Ireland has launched details of its new three-year strategy for 2020-2022 and its marketing plans to promote the island of Ireland overseas next year, at an event attended by Tourism Minister Brendan Griffin and around 500 tourism industry leaders from around the country – including Hotel Kilkenny and Jerpoint Park.

The aim is to grow overseas tourism revenue to €6.54 billion (+13%) and visitor numbers to 12 million (+7%), 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 Ireland. Tourism Ireland aims to spread the benefits of tourism more broadly across Ireland on a year-round basis and to address the issues of capacity, to ensure the visitor experience continues to be world-class. The new strategy is built on a set of sustainable destination marketing principles.

Phase two of Tourism Ireland’s global campaign – ‘Fill Your Heart With Ireland’ – was revealed at the launch. As in phase one of the campaign, the new ad features less visited attractions and locations (including Trim Castle, Waterford Greenway, EPIC – the Irish Emigration Museum and Rathlin Island). 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 has been a very mixed experience for Irish tourism, with weaker demand and the continued uncertainty around Brexit giving rise to consumer concern in Britain and some Mainland European markets. There’s also been a deterioration in air access capacity this year. Latest estimates indicate that, by year end, revenue generated by international visitors will be around €5.78 billion (-1.4% on last year), with some 11.17 million people having visited the island of Ireland (0%).

“In 2019 we’ve seen a continuing weak trend in Irish tourism – which has been reflected in the feedback from our industry partners, who’ve been experiencing weaker demand,” said Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland. “We’ve certainly seen the effects of the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit on travel to Ireland, with holidaymakers booking later and reducing their holiday budgets.

“Throughout 2019, Tourism Ireland undertook a packed programme of promotions, to bring Ireland to the attention of travellers everywhere. Thousands of opportunities were created for potential visitors around the world to read, hear or watch positive messages about Ireland; Tourism Ireland estimates that this media exposure is worth an estimated €350 million in equivalent advertising value.”

2020 will undoubtedly continue to 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 Britain 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 €6.54 billion (+13%) and visitor numbers to 12 million (+7%).

“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,” said Niall Gibbons. “These principles will underpin all of Tourism Ireland’s activities and are reflected in our renewed emphasis on driving business to the regions and ensuring the benefits of tourism growth are distributed right around the island of 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.

“Tourism Ireland will continue to raise awareness of the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East around the world. We will highlight inspirational events like Taste the Island, Galway 2020 and Púca. Our aim is to spread the success of overseas tourism throughout the year and around the entire island of Ireland – ensuring we maintain our renowned welcome and superb visitor experience.”