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Tourism Ireland has successfully built its brand to attract repeat visitors over the years, and its new campaign should put it in position to finally surpass pre-pandemic revenue levels.

Ireland is taking the next step in its comeback as the country’s tourism board recently unveiled a new $84 million marketing campaign with the goal of boosting visitor revenue beyond pre-pandemic levels. 

The global campaign Fill Your Heart with Ireland will go live in the country’s top four tourism markets — the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and France — on St. Patrick’s Day prior to be rolled out to nine more. The campaign features Irish actresses, including Sharon Horgan from Bad Sisters as well as Saoirse-Monica Jackson and Jamie-Lee O’Donnell from Derry Girls, sharing what they love about their homeland. 

The marketing push is designed to target what Tourism Ireland describes as value-adding tourists, which the organization defines as visitors who stay longer, spend more, visit during the shoulder season, and are cognizant of sustainability issues. Sustainability will be a central theme in the campaign’s messaging.

“I welcome the focus on embedding sustainability across all its activities, the increased consideration of the environmental impacts of tourism, and the focus on increasing representation of holidaymaker diversity,” Tourism Minister Catherine Martin said at the launch event on January 16.

Tourism rebounded quicker than anticipated, with inbound arrivals in 2022 hitting roughly 75 percent of 2019 levels. The country’s tourism industry has gotten a boost through the island being a filming location for both Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Games of Thrones, similar to the visitor surge New Zealand experienced through its association with The Hobbit film series.

Ireland has also been a popular corporate travel destination, with Dublin’s status a global tech hub rising significantly in the last decade. The Irish capital is home to a neighborhood nicknamed Silicon Docks, a play on Silicon Valley and the office buildings around Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock, that features the European headquarters of tech giants like Google, Apple and LinkedIn. Bloom Consulting, a firm specializing in nation and destination branding strategies for governments worldwide, put Ireland in 13th place in the trade edition of its 2022/2023 country brand ranking, which aims to measure the impact of international perceptions and reputation.

New CEO on the Horizon

The launch of Ireland’s new campaign came just one week after Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons announced that he would be stepping down from the role after 21 years with the organization, including 14 in his current position. Gibbons has been involved in virtually every aspect of promoting Ireland to overseas markets since Tourism Ireland was created in 1998.

“I started with the company just after (September 11), and tourism has weathered many challenges since then, including Covid-19. As we approach the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, which gave rise to Tourism Ireland, the time is right for a new challenge,” Gibbons said in a statement.

Gibbons has said that his proudest marketing accomplishment since becoming CEO in 2009 was the annual Global Greening, where hundreds of landmarks worldwide light up in green for St Patrick’s Day.

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Tags: ireland, marketing, tourism, tourism campaigns

Photo credit: Dublin is expecting to see a surge in visitors, with Tourism Ireland launching a new campaign. lovinkat / Flickr

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