Minister Donohoe launches Tourism Ireland 2016 marketing plans

30th November, 2015

  • Tourism Ireland sets its sights on another record year for Irish tourism in 2016
  • 8.2 million visitors to generate €4.4 billion spend

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport,  Paschal Donohoe TD, today (Monday) along with Tourism Ireland and tourism industry leaders from around the country launched details of the marketing plans to promote Ireland overseas in 2016 and beyond.

The organisation aims to surpass this year’s record performance in overseas tourism and to welcome 8.2 million visitors to Ireland in 2016. This figure will represent growth of +4% over 2015 and deliver €4.4 billion to the Irish economy (almost +5%) next year.

To illustrate how much Irish tourism has bounced back since the downturn, a comparison of CSO figures for January to October 2015 versus the same period in 2010 shows superb growth in visitors from Britain (+20% in that five-year period), North America (+51%), Mainland Europe (+38%) and Australia and developing markets (+66%).

Building on this year’s success and sustaining growth into the future is at the heart of Tourism Ireland’s strategy for 2016. Factors working in our favour include: new flights to Ireland, stronger economies in our key source markets, the Ireland ‘brand’ (or image abroad) remains strong, as well as favourable exchange rates for sterling and the dollar. Other positives include Tourism Ireland’s strength in digital and social media (the organisation is the third most popular tourism board in the world on Facebook). The release of Star Wars Episode VII – which will feature Skellig Michael – also presents Tourism Ireland with a truly unique opportunity to highlight the South West and Ireland in 2016.

Following the success of the Wild Atlantic Way, a new ad highlighting our latest tourism experience, Ireland’s Ancient East, was also unveiled today. The ad will launch in January 2016 in 23 markets around the world. Tourism Ireland will also promote Dublin – “A Breath of Fresh Air” – in major markets throughout 2016.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, said: “I welcome the ambitious targets that are set out by Tourism Ireland in its marketing plans for 2016. I want to again acknowledge the excellent work that Tourism Ireland carries out overseas with such professionalism, as well as the vital role that our tourism industry plays in generating economic growth and employment opportunities. That is why we continue to invest in tourism marketing, and in supporting our tourism businesses to enhance their competitiveness. Our policies on the air travel tax and VAT have helped to improve the value on offer for our visitors. The overall tourism goal of Government – as expressed in our Tourism Policy Statement – is that by 2025, revenue from overseas visitors, excluding carrier receipts, will increase to €5 billion net of inflation. We aim to have 10 million visits to Ireland annually by 2025 and 250,000 people employed in the tourism sector, compared to 205,000 at present. In August I appointed a new Tourism Leadership Group, which will identify the specific actions required over the period 2016-2018 in order to achieve the longer-term goals in the Tourism Policy Statement. These actions will be contained in a Tourism Action Plan to be published early next year.”

2015 performance

Latest estimates indicate that, by year end, 7.9 million people will have visited Ireland in 2015, representing an +11% increase over 2014, with growth recorded from all markets. Revenue generated by international visitors is expected to be almost €4.2 billion, +16% increase over last year.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “2015 is set to be the best year ever for Irish tourism. And I am delighted to report that growth has been recorded from all our markets around the world – with record numbers arriving here from North America, Mainland Europe and Australia and developing markets. Throughout the year, 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 €320 million in equivalent advertising value.”

2016 and beyond

Tourism Ireland’s targets for 2016 will see Ireland welcome 8.2 million visitors, representing growth of +4% over 2015.

Commenting on the year ahead, Niall Gibbons said: “Following a successful 2015, ambitious targets have been set again for 2016 and beyond. We will unveil Ireland’s Ancient East around the world, while continuing to place a major focus on the Wild Atlantic Way. We will also highlight Dublin, in particular capitalising on the recent inclusion of Dublin at number three in the world in the prestigious ‘Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2016’. Early next year, we will leverage the huge global popularity of Star Wars, following the upcoming launch of Star Wars Episode VII. And we will work with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to highlight Ireland 2016 to people everywhere – showcasing major new attractions and the year’s signature events.”

Access developments for 2015 include three new Aer Lingus transatlantic flights to Dublin from Los Angeles, Hartford (Connecticut) and Newark (New Jersey). Aer Lingus will also launch services from Pisa and Montpelier to Dublin and from Düsseldorf to Cork. Other new routes in the pipeline include Flybe flights from Edinburgh and Birmingham to Ireland West Airport Knock; CityJet’s flights from Nantes and La Rochelle to Cork; an Iberia Express flight between Madrid and Cork; Air Canada rouge from Vancouver to Dublin; as well as a recently launched Ryanair flight from Amsterdam to Dublin.



Tourism Ireland’s focus in 2016

  • Tourism Ireland has identified a number of key themes to underpin its promotional activity in 2016 and continue to grow visitor numbers from overseas. These include:Digital and social media: In 2016, Tourism Ireland will continue to leverage its strength in digital and social media – especially important in developing new ways of reaching, and connecting more frequently, with our target audiences. Tourism Ireland is now the third most popular tourism board in the world on Facebook (about 3.33 million fans), number two on Twitter (317,000 followers) and number two on YouTube. Tourism Ireland’s international website, is external), attracted a record 16.5 million visitors in 2015. Next year, a new forum will be developed on, a community approach to making it easier for a potential visitor to plan their holiday to Ireland.
  • International publicity: Tourism Ireland will also ramp up its publicity programme around the world – placing increased focus on digital channels and working more closely with online media, including bloggers. This year, Tourism Ireland’s publicity activities generated thousands of articles and broadcasts, worth an estimated €320 million.
  • Collaboration: Tourism Ireland will provide thousands of promotional engagements for Irish tourism enterprises and trade partners overseas – to help them do business overseas and facilitate them to ‘close the sale’, particularly in the digital space. The organisation will continue to work closely with airlines and airports – building on its successful co-operative marketing programme, with a dedicated €1 million fund for promoting flights to regional airports.
  • Wild Atlantic Way: Promoting the Wild Atlantic Way will remain a key focus for Tourism Ireland in 2016, with Tourism Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way TV ad reaching 28 million prospective holidaymakers in France and Germany alone.
  • Leveraging Star Wars: Star Wars Episode VII is possibly the most anticipated film of all time, with pre-opening ticket sales beating all previous records. Skellig Michael is one of the very few ‘real world’ locations to feature in the movie – providing Tourism Ireland with a truly unique opportunity to promote the Skelligs and the broader Wild Atlantic Way. Tourism Ireland has worked with Lucasfilm (the producer) to capture the film on location on Skellig Michael and will launch a dedicated Star Wars campaign in early January.
  • Dublin: Tourism Ireland will also highlight Dublin – “between the mountains and the sea” – particularly in the shoulder and off-seasons and will capitalise on the recent inclusion of Dublin at number three in the world in the prestigious ‘Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2016’.
  • Ireland’s Ancient East: Our newest tourism experience, Ireland’s Ancient East, will be unveiled around the world in 2016. Tourism Ireland’s brand new Ireland’s Ancient East advert will launch in January, in 23 markets around the world.
  • Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening 2016: 2016 will mark the seventh year of Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening initiative – when hundreds of iconic landmarks and sites around the world will be illuminated in green to celebrate our national day.
  • Ireland 2016: Ireland 2016, when the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising will be commemorated, will also be highlighted to people everywhere – with Tourism Ireland showcasing major new attractions and the year’s signature events.
  • Target audiences: In addition to our key ‘culturally curious’ and ‘social energisers’ audiences, Tourism Ireland will also target niche segments – including golfers, business and incentive visitors, as well as the Diaspora in Britain, North America and Australia.