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Selling the Island: Tourism Ireland Q&A

This St Patrick's Day is set to be a low-key affair, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep Ireland front of mind for your next holiday. Here, we speak to ALISON METCALFE, Head of North America, Australia & New Zealand, Tourism Ireland, to find out more about their marketing strategy and the importance of the Australian market.


What are the aims of the new marketing strategy?

We are looking to build on the success of Irish tourism internationally and globally and to do that we believe we need to deliver sustainable growth. It’s not just about the numbers – it’s making sure we do that in a sustainable way so that every part of the island of Ireland feels the benefit.


What are the key messages you’re trying to deliver?

Our priorities remain to drive regional growth, extend the visitor season to include off-peak periods, to build more demand for Northern Ireland and to make sure we tell a bigger story to consumers about all the things there are to see and do in Ireland.

It is all about managing demand and doing it in a way that maintains the quality of the experience for visitors.'


So what are the regional experiences that Aussies can enjoy?

We have five really strong regional brand experiences. The Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Hidden Heartlands, Dublin and Northern Ireland’s new brand, Embrace the Giant Spirit.

The new brand will allow Northern Ireland to compete more robustly on an international level with lots of new experiences being developed. At the end of the day we know it is experiences that really differentiate a destination. People want to go local and immerse themselves in the culture and try new things.


Wine Tasting


How will you drive demand into the off-season?

I think the smart traveller realises the benefits of travelling in the off-season. It’s less crowded, less expensive and a lot of experiences are more authentic because people have a lot more time for you.

So we’ll be talking about events such as the 2020 Taste the Island Festival, a celebration of Ireland’s food culture, which will run through September to November. There’s also the Puca Halloween festival in late October, St Patrick’s Day, TradFest and the Global Greening promotion. 


For those who haven’t been yet, what is the Irish difference?

It’s a relatively compact destination but what many people don’t realise is we have a huge amount to see and do. You have history and culture, great landscapes and great people. 

The people aren’t necessarily the reason to go but they leave the lasting impression. They are the glue that brings all of the experiences together.


Trad Night


How important is the Australian market?

This has always been a good market for us and we’ve seen really good growth over the years. Australians come for quite a long time and you spend, so you are in our top 10 markets for both holidaymaker numbers and visitor spend. Australia is also very important to Northern Ireland – it is the number three market in terms of visitor numbers.


What role do travel agents play in your thinking?

They are very important, particularly in Australia, because it’s a big time commitment and financial investment for consumers to travel to Ireland. We have a fairly extensive B2B program working with the travel trade in terms of famil trips, webinars, partnership programs and sales missions.

Tourism Ireland is committed to the Australasian market. We are investing in this market, we have a strategy and by everyone in the travel industry aligning behind the strategy it’s a win-win situation for everyone.


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Written by: ALISON METCALFE as told to Traveltalk
Published: 16 March 2020

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