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Giant Promotion

New promotional blitz targets travellers in GB for short breaks and holidays in Northern Ireland

Campaign will be seen by millions and reach 80% of all adults in GB

Tourism Ireland has launched a £5 million, multi-media promotional campaign, to boost travel to Northern Ireland from GB over the coming months. The campaign, which is running under the banner ‘Northern Ireland – Embrace a Giant Spirit’, will be seen by millions and will reach at least 80% of all adults in GB. It will generate demand now and drive bookings for short breaks and holidays in Northern Ireland.

The extensive campaign will include advertising on major TV channels and on catch-up TV sites; digital outdoor advertising at more than 500 locations across GB; ads on popular digital and social channels; a partnership with The Guardian; as well as a busy programme of publicity. Co-operative promotions with air and sea carriers, as well as online travel agents, are also under way.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons MLA, said:

“Tourism is an enormously important industry for Northern Ireland and a key driver of our economy. In fact, before the pandemic hit us all, 2019 was the best year ever for overseas tourism to Northern Ireland, when we welcomed over 2.2 million overseas visitors, a significant number of which came from the GB market.

“We have a terrific product for visitors on offer across Northern Ireland, including the beautiful Causeway Coastal Route, the historic city of Londonderry, the fantastic lakelands of Fermanagh, and, of course, our capital city, Belfast, with our maritime history highlighted at Titanic Belfast, a truly world-class visitor attraction.

“The GB market is a vitally important one for our tourism industry and I am confident that this campaign will show the best of what Northern Ireland has to offer. With the TV ads alone set to be viewed by almost 13 million people across GB, I believe this campaign will help convince tourists to visit Northern Ireland. Our tour operators, visitor attractions and accommodation providers have worked hard to introduce new safety measures and precautions to help ensure visitors and staff are kept safe.”

Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, said:

“We are delighted to unveil our new £5 million campaign to promote Northern Ireland in GB – which will highlight our great cities, spectacular scenery and the many things to see and do here. As we begin to rebuild our tourism business from the all-important GB market, our aim is to remind prospective visitors that Northern Ireland is the perfect destination for a short break or holiday. Tourism Ireland will be pulling out all the stops to drive as much business as possible to Northern Ireland over the coming months.”

GB is an important market for tourism to Northern Ireland. Before COVID-19, in 2019, we welcomed almost 1.5 million GB visitors to Northern Ireland, whose visits generated £369 million in revenue.

Pictured at the Giant's Causeway are (l-r) Christopher Brooke, Vice-Chairman of Tourism Ireland; Gordon Lyons MLA, Minister for the Economy; Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland; and Esther Dobbin, Giant's Causeway, at the launch of Tourism Ireland’s promotional campaign to boost travel to Northern Ireland from GB.

On the Road to Recovery

In April 2020, Diane Dodds MLA, the Northern Ireland Economy Minister, established and chaired a Tourism Recovery Steering Group to assist in responding to the immediate, and devastating, impact of COVID-19 on the tourism and hospitality industry. The Group, which brought together stakeholders from industry, central and local government, was tasked with developing a Tourism Recovery Action Plan aimed at ensuring the survival, and subsequent recovery, of the tourism and hospitality industry from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minister also established a supporting Tourism Recovery Working Group, chaired by John McGrillen, the Chief Executive of Tourism NI, to lead on engagement with all sectors of the tourism and hospitality industry. The Working Group was supported by over 100 stakeholders via 10 Task and Finish Groups. After a number of months of research and consultation the experts have produced a Recovery plan aimed at getting the tourism sector back on its feet.

At CWA as we support local Chinese businesses many of which are in the catering and hospitality sector and other local tourism businesses geared to international visitors we will be working in line with the strategic recovery plan.

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WeChat promotes Northern Ireland

Tourism Ireland has joined forces with WeChat, the hugely popular messaging, social media and mobile payment app in China.

The partnership involves a new mini-programme on WeChat, called ‘Explore Ireland’ – designed to make it as easy as possible for prospective Chinese visitors to choose the island of Ireland.

The online guide features information on visas for travel to Ireland, festivals happening here right throughout the year, hotels, visitor attractions, great filming locations to visit, the perfect honeymoon spots, a map navigation, as well as a translation function. Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland can also complete their tax refund on any purchases made here within the mini-programme.

China is the largest outbound travel market in the world and one that Tourism Ireland is committed to growing over the coming years. In 2019, Tourism Ireland announced its intention to double its marketing investment in China, to €1 million, and to also double its marketing team to 12 – to grow Chinese visitor numbers to 200,000 by 2025.

“Given the importance of social media in China, we are delighted to partner with WeChat to raise awareness of the island of Ireland among Chinese travellers,” said Aisling McDermott, Tourism Ireland’s Manager Asia and Middle East. "We’re confident that our new ‘Explore Ireland’ mini-programme will prove to be an effective way of reaching prospective Chinese visitors – using up-to-date, practical and engaging content to ensure Ireland stands out from other destinations."

In 2020, Tourism Ireland will once again roll out a busy programme of publicity, digital and social media activity, to continue to grow Chinese visitor numbers to the island of Ireland. The organisation will also continue to work closely with leading online travel agents and tour operators.

Opening page of the ‘Explore Ireland’ mini-programme on WeChat.WeCha

As CWA develops its own heritage and cultural tourism offerings we will be encouraging local Chinese and BME groups to promote their events and festivals such as Chinese New Year to international audiences. The opportunity to reach the Chinese market is too good to miss and our local businesses including tour guides and unique Chinese-NI Fusion food and events are a great addition to any tourist itinerary.

Ireland- Most Anticipated

Ireland has been named one of the top ten ‘most anticipated destinations’ at a travel awards ceremony in China.

The award was presented to Tourism Ireland in Shanghai, at a ceremony organised by WITrip – a high-end travel magazine. The awards celebrate excellence in travel and the winners are voted by readers of the magazine, as well as by a jury of travel experts. At the ceremony, Ireland was named one of the ‘top ten most anticipated destinations’ for Chinese travellers, along with countries like France, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, South Africa and Montenegro.

Tourism Ireland also recently scooped another award in China – at the 16th annual National Tourism Fashion Awards in Beijing. National Tourism is a well-known Chinese travel trade publication and the accolade was for the ‘Top 10 Destination Promotion Breakthrough Award’. Tourism Ireland was named with other national tourist boards, including VisitBritain, Tourism Australia, Destination Canada, Visit Hungary and the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi – in the category which recognises ‘outstanding marketing efforts’.

Welcoming the news, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said:

“We are delighted that Ireland has been recognised as one of the top ten ‘most anticipated destinations’ at WITrip’s awards ceremony in Shanghai. During this devastating period for travel and tourism, this accolade is good news and will help inspire Chinese travellers to put the island of Ireland on their future holiday wish-list – when the time is right. Accolades like this help shine a spotlight on Ireland for all the right reasons.”

Iris Wang, Tourism Ireland, accepting the award for Ireland being named one of the ‘top ten most anticipated destinations’ for Chinese travellers, at WITrip's travel awards ceremony in Shanghai.

Virtual Tourism Opportunities

The European Travel Commission (ETC) is holding the first EUROPE Virtual Travel Trade Show in China from 19-23 April, bringing together European destinations and travel companies with buyers in China, to prepare for the successful recovery of Chinese tourism to Europe. The event is co-funded by the European Union.

This first-of-its-kind event seeks to educate and establish meaningful partnerships with the Chinese travel trade regarding European destinations and experiences, showcase Europe’s readiness to welcome Chinese travelers back when the time is right, and highlight the European tourism industry’s commitment to health and safety protocols.

The event and its exhibitor selection are centered on three key themes: Creative Cities, Nature, and History. These themes will be reflected in the exhibitors’ digital resources provided to the Chinese travel trade, as well as during the event’s conference sessions. Spread over three days, the New Horizons Forum will feature industry experts from both China and Europe, for high-level discussions on the future of tourism. Conference sessions include keynote speeches from ETC Executive Director, Eduardo Santander, and from two distinguished Chinese officials: President of China Tourism Academy, Dai Bin, and Secretary General of China Association of Travel Services, Sun Guizhen. The program also features two panel discussions on “Where Is China’s Tourism Market Heading Post-Pandemic” and “Experience-focused and Customized Travel for FITs”, with the aim of generating ideas on how Europe can seize the opportunity to capture early market share when travel resumes.

This 100% online B2B event connects European destinations and their local partners with more than 200 pre-qualified Chinese buyers for 1-on-1 virtual meetings via video call and chat on any device – desktop computer, mobile or WeChat. The platform is fully bilingual, with interpretation services available upon request. In addition to the matchmaking meetings, exhibitors will also have digital booths, where they can share brochures, videos, and other information with trade visitors. Each European exhibitor will have an opportunity to discuss future cooperation with at least 15 Chinese buyers from leading travel companies. The full event, including B2B matchmaking sessions, virtual exhibition, and online conference sessions, is powered by virtual event partner Dragon Trail International.

The trade show will feature 100 exhibitors selected through a rigorous application process. The final set of 100 exhibitors takes into account geographical balance, and the alignment of products with the ETC’s objective of attracting the new generation of Chinese FIT and small group travelers who travel to enjoy unique natural, cultural and historical experiences. The 100 exhibitors come from 24 European countries, including national, regional, and municipal tourism boards and their local partners, including hotels, retailers, tour operators, and transportation companies.

Europe has remained the first-choice long-haul destination for Chinese travelers throughout the pandemic, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming back Chinese visitors to enjoy our renowned tourism resources including diverse nature, creative cities, and rich history. As the ETC’s first virtual event for the China market, the EUROPE Travel Trade Show in China aims to kick start the recovery process, empowering European destinations and tourism providers to make essential connections for future business through an innovative, multi-functional digital platform,” said Zuzanna Gutkowska, Chairperson of the ETC China Chapter.

Opening Up New Chinese Markets

Nine tourism enterprises from around the island of Ireland are joining Tourism Ireland virtually at the ETOA China European Marketplace, today (11 May).

The online B2B workshop is organised by the European Tourism Association (ETOA) and will be attended by around 70 Chinese tour operators and travel buyers. It involves a series of pre-scheduled, one-to-one video appointments – connecting the companies from Ireland with the Chinese travel professionals.

The aim is to showcase the island of Ireland to these key tour operators and travel buyers from China, to position us well for when the time is right to welcome Chinese, and other international, visitors once again.

Iris Wang, Tourism Ireland’s Marketing Manager in China, said:

“We are really pleased to take part in the ETOA China European Marketplace. The format of virtual one-to-one appointments provides a good opportunity for our partners to showcase the island of Ireland to the important Chinese tour operators and travel buyers. Our message for those travel professionals is that, when the time is right, we will have everything ready to welcome Chinese visitors back to our shores. We’ll be assuring them that tourism companies across the island of Ireland have been implementing all the required new health and safety measures – but will still be ready to deliver a fantastic holiday experience for their clients.”

Belfast delegation Visits China

A delegation from Belfast – including the Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey and officials from Visit Belfast – are visiting Shenyang, a city in China’s northeast Liaoning Province which is twinned with Belfast, this week. They met local travel journalists and travel agents, at a showcase event organised by Tourism Ireland yesterday (13 September).

According to Tourism Ireland, we welcomed around 90,000 Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland in 2017, up +43% on 2016. Tourism Ireland is rolling out a busy programme of promotions in China this autumn, to continue to raise awareness of Northern Ireland and to position us well for 2019. Activity includes co-operative promotions with Hainan Airlines and Cathay Pacific to highlight ease of access to Ireland, as well as partnerships with key influencers and bloggers.

James Kenny, Tourism Ireland’s Manager China, said:

This week’s visit by the Belfast delegation is an excellent opportunity to highlight Belfast and Northern Ireland to influential travel professionals and journalists in Shenyang.

“China is the largest outbound travel market in the world and one that Tourism Ireland is committed to growing over the coming years. In 2017, we welcomed an estimated 90,000 Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland; the introduction of direct flights to Dublin from Beijing and Hong Kong this year is a major game-changer and offers a real opportunity for us to grow this emerging travel market over the coming years.”


Deputy Mayor of Shenyang (back, 10th left); Deirdre Hargey, Lord Mayor of Belfast (back, 11th right); Tim Losty, NI Bureau (back, centre); David Boyce (back, fifth left), Steffi Zhang (back, second left) and James Kenny (front, third left), all Tourism Ireland; Gerry Lennon (back, sixth left) and Rachel McGuickin (back, seventh left), both Visit Belfast; Laura Leonard, Belfast City Council (back, second right); Ms Zhang, Hainan Airlines (back, third left); and officials from Shenyang, at the Belfast showcase event in Shenyang organised by Tourism Ireland.