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Tourism Ireland launches £8.5m autumn campaign

Pictured are, from left, Brian Ambrose, chairman of Tourism Ireland; Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s head of North America; and Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland.

Pictured are, from left, Brian Ambrose, chairman of Tourism Ireland; Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s head of North America; and Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland.

Tourism Ireland has launched an £8.5m promotional campaign, to boost late-season travel to Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland from around the world. The September to December period usually yields as much as 30% of annual overseas tourism business.

The campaign will highlight the many festivals and events taking place right around Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland this autumn – from the Ulster Bank Belfast International Arts Festival to Culture Night, the Banks of the Foyle Hallowe’en Carnival in Londonderry, as well as the Belfast Comedy Festival and Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival.

“The latest NISRA figures indicate that overseas visitors to Northern Ireland increased by +9% in the first quarter of 2015 over the same three-month period last year,” said Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland. “And I am pleased to report that sentiment expressed by our tourism partners around Northern Ireland suggests that growth from overseas has continued into the high summer season – with major attractions like the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre reporting an increase in overseas visitors of +11%.

“We are determined to keep that momentum going. Our autumn campaign aims to take advantage of late booking trends in our target markets, as there is still plenty of business to play for. Many people are opting for shorter holiday breaks and autumn is a good opportunity, with many world-class festivals and events happening here.
“Tourism Ireland’s publicity drive continues this autumn, targeting print, broadcast and online media around the world, with lots of positive stories about Northern Ireland, including the recent opening of The Gobbins Coastal Path. We will also continue to build awareness of Northern Ireland as a top business tourism destination, particularly highlighting the new facilities at the Waterfront Hall. In addition, Tourism Ireland will bring top overseas travel agents and tour operators to Northern Ireland this autumn, to meet with local tourism businesses and negotiate inclusion in their 2016 brochures and programmes.”

The campaign – which is being rolled out in Great Britain, the United States, Mainland Europe, Australia and emerging markets – will incorporate a major focus on city breaks, as well as on attracting visitors to more rural areas, over the coming months. Highlights of the activity include co-operative promotions with carriers – such as Aer Lingus, Flybe, P&O, Vueling and Jet2; extensive online advertising; as well as a busy programme of digital, PR and social media activity.
Other highlights from the autumn campaign:
• Ahead of Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink in 2016, Tourism Ireland has invited about 20 international journalists to take part in a special, food-themed visit to Northern Ireland, at the end of October. Tourism Ireland will be taking every opportunity to highlight and celebrate our wonderful food scene, promoting Northern Ireland cuisine around the world;

• Tourism Ireland will once again have a presence at the Stone Mountain Highland Games in Atlanta, in October – targeting the Scots-Irish and Ulster Scots market and helping to ensure Northern Ireland is high on the vacation ‘wish-list’ of Americans for 2016;
• Sales blitzes targeting travel trade and media blitzes in Minneapolis, Denver, Dallas, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Francisco;
• In the Netherlands, three episodes of an extremely popular soap opera – filmed at various locations in Northern Ireland in May – will air from the beginning of October to about 2.5 million Dutch TV viewers;
• Co-operative campaigns with Visit Belfast and Vueling (in Spain) and with Visit Belfast and (in Italy), to raise awareness of Belfast as a fantastic city break destination and to drive sales of flights to Belfast during September and October; and
• World Travel Market, London – the largest B2B event in the global travel and tourism calendar, where Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink 2016 will be launched to the influential travel professionals in attendance.

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