North America and Mainland Europe hold the key to tourism growth next year, according to Tourism Ireland, as it launched its marketing plans for 2013. The plans will see visitor numbers to the island of Ireland increase by 5% to 7.6 million in 2013, contributing €3.7 billion (+6%) to the economies, north and south.
2012 looks set to be one of the strongest years ever for visitors from North America to Ireland (since the previous high of 2007, when we welcomed over one million visitors). With the number of airline seats from the USA to Ireland set to grow by 20% for the summer of 2013, Tourism Ireland believes this is a market of considerable potential. A new three-year plan, ‘Make Ireland Jump Out’, will be rolled out in the USA in 2013. It aims to increase the number of American visitors by 20% between 2013 and 2015 and to win a greater share of all travel by Americans to Europe.
Mainland Europe is also an increasingly important market for Irish tourism, now delivering even more holidaymakers and revenue than Britain. For 2013, Tourism Ireland aims to welcome almost 2.5 million European visitors (an increase of 4.4%). The organisation’s resources will be prioritised in the two key markets of Germany and France – followed by Italy, the Nordics, Spain and the Netherlands. A new strategy for Britain, our largest tourism market, ‘GB Path to Growth’, will be implemented, to increase the number of British holidaymakers by 20%, i.e. an additional 200,000 holiday visitors per year by 2016.
Australia and emerging tourism markets also look set to experience a record year in 2012, thanks in part to improved access, with more air routes than ever before via the Middle East providing good connectivity from Australia, China and India.
Details of Tourism Ireland’s brand new website, Ireland.com, were also unveiled at the launch event. The new site, which will go live in time for January 2013, will appear in 11 different language versions for over 30 individual markets around the world.
It has been completely redeveloped to provide a transformed web experience for potential holidaymakers around the world. It has been specially designed to capitalise on the huge importance of the Internet in planning and booking holidays today and to harness the phenomenal growth in social media. The new domain name for the site, Ireland.com, with its ease of recognition and memorability, will ensure greater ‘stand-out’ for the destination around the world and deliver savings in promotions and search engine optimisation (SEO) activity.
For 2013, Tourism Ireland will continue its successful strategy of working with airlines, the travel trade and industry partners, as well as influential media in those markets – highlighting ease of access, the visa waiver scheme and the many compelling reasons to visit Ireland. A combined UK and Ireland visa has the potential to deliver additional growth from these markets.
The major focus of Tourism Ireland’s promotions next year will be The Gathering Ireland 2013, the biggest and most ambitious tourism-led event ever held in Ireland. Tourism Ireland will promote The Gathering throughout the year to the 70 million people across the world who feel linked by family, friends or otherwise with Ireland.
Latest estimates indicate that, by the year end, 7.27 million people will have visited the island in 2012, generating revenue of approximately €3.51 billion. Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “2012 has been something of a mixed year, with Dublin and other cites, as well as the tourism ‘honeypots’ doing quite well, but with rural and outlying areas finding the going harder.
“Visitor numbers from North America and long-haul markets like Australia look set to reach or even exceed the records levels of 2007. The performance of Mainland European markets has also been quite strong. However, visitor numbers from Great Britain, our largest tourism market, have been disappointing, with a flat economy and weak consumer confidence having a significant impact on travel by Britons throughout the year.”
Tourism Ireland’s targets for 2013 will see the island of Ireland welcoming 7.6 million visitors, representing growth in visitor numbers of 5% over 2012.
Niall Gibbons added: “2013 is about setting us back on a path of sustained growth in the continuing difficult climate. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the pace of economic recovery in our key source markets, we believe that our marketing activity around the globe in 2013 can deliver a 5% increase in visitor numbers, with North American and Mainland Europe representing significant potential.
“The Gathering Ireland presents an unprecedented opportunity for us to shine a spotlight on Ireland around the world. We will also continue to work closely with our tourism partners, at home and overseas, to achieve our common objectives and help drive economic regeneration.”