Tourism Ireland has released details of its new three year tourism strategy for 2020-2022, which aims to grow overseas tourism revenue to €6.54bn and visitor numbers to 12m.

The new strategy was unveiled at an event attended by Tourism Minister Brendan Griffin and around 500 tourism industry leaders from around the country. At the same event, Tourism Ireland also revealed its marketing plans to promote the island of Ireland overseas next year.

Phase two of Tourism Ireland’s global campaign – Fill Your Heart With Ireland – was revealed at the event. 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.

2020 will mark the 10th anniversary of Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening, which has grown to include over 500 iconic landmarks around the world. In March 2020, Tourism Ireland will develop a new ‘Green Tuesday’ St Patrick’s Day promotion – a time-limited ‘mega’ event linked to the Global Greening campaign, encouraging carriers, industry and trade to provide off-peak special offers.

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 the island of Ireland. Tourism Ireland aims to spread the benefits of tourism more broadly across the island of Ireland on a year-round basis and to address the issues of capacity. The new strategy is built on a set of sustainable destination marketing principles.

The period 2020-2022 will see Tourism Ireland redevelop its digital platforms, including its suite of websites. 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 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 has 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 €5.78bn (down 1.4% on last year), with some 11.17m people having visited the island (no increase compared to 2018).

2020 is expected to be another challenging year with little to no growth forecast by many. “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.”

At the launch, Minister Griffin reminded attendees that tourism contributed over €5bn to the Irish economy from overseas tourists alone in 2019. “Despite the challenges we have faced this year, we head into 2020 in a relatively strong position,” he said. “The primary target is to achieve €6.5 billion in revenue from overseas tourism by 2025. While this is a challenging target, we must seek to reach it in a way that is sustainable. I am glad to see that within Tourism Ireland’s plans for next year there is a strong focus on sustainability through spreading our tourism business more evenly around the entire island and encouraging more visitors in the off-season.”

“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.”

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