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Tourism drive for Great Britain visitors

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Tourism Minister Nigel Dodds launches a £500,000 marketing campaign to attract more visitors to Northern Ireland from Scotland and the north of England.

The joint initiative, by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Tourism Ireland, is a Northern Ireland specific campaign for 2008.  It will include an extensive publicity campaign with coverage in travel supplements of top newspaper titles, a series of radio promotions for events and weekend breaks, on-line, radio and newspaper advertising and cooperative marketing activity with Northern Ireland ferry operators.

The campaign will promote strong reasons to visit Northern Ireland, highlight the ease of getting here by sea and air and will showcase good value fares and compelling offers from local industry partners.

Launching the campaign at Belfast’s newest visitor attraction, the Big Wheel, Tourism Minister Nigel Dodds said: “Scotland and the north of England account for over a third of total visitors from Great Britain to Northern Ireland every year but, clearly, there is more business to be won if we are to meet the ambitious targets for growth set out in the Executive’s Programme for Government.

“There has never been a better time to launch this campaign and to capitalise on the revival of interest in Northern Ireland, particularly with this week’s opening of the Victoria Square retail development in Belfast, which can only be seen as an additional attraction for visitors coming to Northern Ireland.”

The Minister concluded: “The tourism market has never been more competitive and consumers in Scotland, the north of England and the world over are spoiled for choice. It is particularly important that we are out there, right now, actively promoting Northern Ireland to influence their decisions.”

Kathryn Thomson, Chief Operating Officer Northern Ireland Tourist Board, said: “Research tells us that interest in Northern Ireland is growing in Great Britain thanks to a much greater awareness of the destination, but we need to provide the consumer with greater reasons to specifically choose Northern Ireland and make the next step to booking a visit. This campaign will focus on historic and cultural links between Northern Ireland, Scotland and the north of England and will highlight the excellent access by both sea and air”.

Niall Gibbons, Director of Corporate Services & Policy Tourism Ireland, said: “The new campaign comes at an ideal time to win additional business for Northern Ireland. It will help us achieve further growth from this vital market which yielded a double digit increase in holidaymakers to Northern Ireland last year. This new marketing programme will build on the Northern Ireland-specific promotion mounted in Scotland and North of England last autumn. It will be additional activity over and above Tourism Ireland’s core overseas marketing programme for 2008. “

Notes to Editors:

  • The Northern Ireland campaign is co-funded equally by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Tourism Ireland. It will run from early March until June.
  • Northern Ireland tourism enjoyed sustained growth from Great Britain between 1996 and 2003. 2004 to 2006 brought a downturn in total visitors; however holiday visits showed a significant recovery in 2007 with growth of over 30% to September (latest stats).
  • Consumer research shows that Great Britain visitors want to know more about what’s on offer for a holiday in Northern Ireland before they leave home. GB is one of the world’s most competitive marketplaces.  It is this localised knowledge that will help them choose Northern Ireland over another destination.

Highlights of the new Northern Ireland campaign

  • Publicity initiatives will include specially commissioned Northern Ireland features in influential travel supplements published by the Glasgow Herald and Scotland on Sunday.
  • A series of radio promotions will focus on the Londonderry Jazz Festival and Belfast for short breaks on radio stations Clyde 2, North Sound and Radio Tay. These will include live broadcasts and regular airing of “audio postcards” from Northern Ireland.
  • Co-operative advertising activity will involve Northern Ireland ferry operators.
  • The St Patrick connection will be profiled around St Patrick’s Day through a series of interviews with Dr Tim Campbell which will be syndicated to up to 200 radio stations.
  • A special St Patrick’s Celebration holiday fair, involving Northern Ireland tourism industry partners, is being staged at Merchant Court in Glasgow to be hosted by Northern Ireland celebrity Eamonn Holmes.
  • Northern Ireland will be promoted at the three-week long Celtic Connections music Festival in Glasgow.
  • Familiarisation visits for influential group travel organisers from Scotland and the north of England will be organised to sample the Northern Ireland holiday experience for themselves.
  • For media enquiries please contact the DETI Press Office, tel 028 9052 9297.
  • Outside office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.