Ireland aims to boost tourism with new campaign

29 Nov 2009 by Mark Caswell

Tourism Ireland has launched a new strategy to attract visitors from Great Britain over the course of the New Year. Launched at this year’s World Travel Market, the promotional campaign focuses on portraying both Northern and Southern Ireland as “serious destinations for leisure, short breaks or business leisure.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, revealed that the aim is to transform the St Patrick’s Day celebrations (on March 17) into the “biggest consumer event of the first quarter of 2010,” with emphasis placed on the ease with which British tourists can “experience Irish culture first hand.” Group organisers, coach operators, wholesalers and specialists will also be involved in the push to raise the event’s profile, and are to take part in a series of workshops to strengthen links with Tourism Ireland. Later in 2010 it is hoped that the opening of the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre and the new Titanic Centenary in Belfast will result in an additional increase in tourist figures.

The business branch of the promotions scheme will highlight improvements being made to the island’s infrastructure and corporate facilities. Tourism Ireland plans to exploit the faltering MICE market, branding Ireland as a hosting solution to problems buyers are likely to face in the next three to four years. Large suites have been installed in the city’s new Aviva Stadium (providing spaces that can hold 800 people) and September 2010 will see the opening of the purpose-built Dublin Convention Centre, which will be able to cater for up to 8,000 delegates attending conferences. Rooms at both venues will be installed with the latest technology, including plasma screens, AV conferencing facilities and wifi.

A new Terminal 2 at Dublin airport is also set to open fully in November 2010, catering to both short and long haul passengers. With an expanded departures lounge and a total of 58 check-in desks, it will be home to transatlantic and intercontinental carriers (including Aer Lingus) and will also be one of only two terminals in Europe that allows passengers to clear US customs and immigration (see online news September 15 for more details)

Both sectors of the island’s tourism industry have suffered in the last twelve months as a result of the turbulent economic climate and fluctuating exchange rates. It is hoped that this new drive will reignite interest in Ireland at the start of the 2010 season. With services in such close proximity to mainland Britain, but with an entirely different cultural feel, Tourism Ireland intends to market the island as a high quality international business destination that offers value for money, an abundance of corporate event solutions and unbeatable hospitality.

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Report by Alison Rowley

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