Tourism Ireland has just completed a marathon sale
Tourism Ireland has just completed a marathon sales mission visiting Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland, meeting with over 300 Australian and New Zealand travel trade through a series of workshops and networking events. The roadshow follows a successful few years for the tourism organisation.Since 2010 visitors from Australia and New Zealand to the island of Ireland has grown by more than 50 per cent, with 230,000 visiting in 2017 – the best ever year for tourism to Ireland, with over 9 million overseas visitors from all over the world, contributing around €5 billion to the economy.We talk travel with Tourism Ireland Head of North America and Australia / New Zealand, Alison Metcalfe.TM: Tell us Alison, how has the roadshow been so far, what’s the reception been like with Australian agents?We started in Brisbane on a four-city road show, traveling to Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, and finishing in Auckland. We had an incredible response. We undertake this road trip every two years, and we have a great group of industry partners. This year we have 12 industry partners representing hotels, attractions, tour operators, road tour companies.The response we’ve had from the travel professionals, retail travel agents, has been tremendous, very engaged, very interested.MCA Sydney – Conor Shaw The Merrion, Liz Lalor Teeling Whiskey, Alison Metcalfe TI, Fiona Herald Guinness Storehouse, Niall Gibbons TISome are more knowledgeable about Ireland than others, and obviously it’s our job to educate them and bring them up to date with what is new and different in terms of the kinds of experience their clients can have. We’ve been very impressed with the response we’ve had.MCA Trade Workshop SydneyIt’s also worth pointing out that the Australian market is becoming increasingly important for Ireland. Because it is so far away, people don’t always realise just how important it is – it is our tenth largest market in terms of visitation, but it is actually number six in terms of revenue. Australians travel-time is longer than almost every other nationality, on average about 13 nights. I suppose because they do come to Europe generally for much longer, they have more time. We are trying to encourage them to either start or finish their European vacation in Ireland, or perhaps combine it with a trip to Britain. It’s a very important market for us and for the last five years visitors from Australia have grown by 52%, so it’s a market that is heading in the right direction, and one that Tourism Ireland is continuing to invest in.Syd The Mint – Sofia Hansson, Conor Shaw Merrion, Alison Metcalfe, Minister, Niall Gibbons, Lorraine Sharpe Insight Vacations, Matthew Cameron Smith TrafalgarTM: The strategy presented to travel agents this week included the objective to divert people away from the main centres. How will you achieve this?Yes, we will be launching a new global advertising campaign. in Australia in the early part of next year as part of our brand campaign. I suppose what we are saying is we’re going to be dialling up the focus on some lesser known areas, and lesser known attractions, and really trying to encourage people to get off the beaten track. We know Australians like to do that, we are not going to be saying don’t visit the Cliffs of Moher, don’t visit Giants Causeway, we’re just going to be highlighting the lesser known attractions. For example, perhaps instead of featuring the Cliffs of Moher in our advertising, we’ll feature Slieve League in Donegal, the highest sea cliffs in Europe. Perhaps instead of featuring the Giants Causeway we’ll feature the Goblins Path a location on the Causeway coastal route, and perhaps looking at some of the parts along the Wild Atlantic Way north of Galway.Brisbane Trade Workshop – BlackbirdWhen you actually look at what Ireland has to offer, there’s so many great cultural attractions, so many different parts of the country that offer wild and rugged scenery. I think that Australians are ready to get off that beaten track to really get the insider feel for Ireland.TM: How can agents learn more about these off the beaten track locations?We have our Ireland agent specialist program, relaunched this year and we will be updating that to put greater focus on these lesser known attractions. There will be new video content, new photographic content, and additional educational components. We will also be continuing to work with the trade on familiarisation trips. We will also be working with the consumer media to increase consumer demand for these new attractions. Our goal as an international marketing agency is to inspire people to want to include Ireland on their vacation itineraries and say “YES! I want to include Ireland”.Melbourne Langham Hotel James Wyatt Tempo, Martin Lynch Teeling Whiskey, Jim Deegan Railtours, Viola Attala Tempo, Alison Metcalfe TIWe’ll also be introducing a series of webinars for the travel trade and retail agents. We only operate the sales mission every two years. Obviously, the office in Sydney is working closely with the travel trade and cooperative campaigns, but we want to find a way to keep our industry more connected on a more regular basis. We have successful webinar programs in other markets like Canada and the United States, it’s a very cost effective way for both us and the retail trade. They can sit at their desk and tune in, and it will hopefully keep Ireland front and centre in their minds.TM: Can you pick 5 reasons that travels agents can use to say well here’s a great reason to go to Ireland this year.First of all, it’s never been easier to get there. I think that’s really important. We are an island, so we are sort of the closest point when you are traveling to Europe really. One stop access has changed that.It is the incredible scenery. The rugged coastal scenery, but also the rural scenery.Great culture and heritage, and some great history. Whether you are interested in medieval or ancient history, a lot of people don’t realise that Newgrange is older than the pyramids.But I think mostly it’s the people. I think Australian and Ireland have very close connections, a lot of people have heritage connections. The people really are the glue that bring it together.Of course we recognise the people who are increasingly active, so Ireland offers a good active vacation.Fly into Dublin, get off the beaten track, enjoy some of the scenery along the Wild Atlantic Way, some of our rich cultural heritage maybe head up to Belfast in Northern Ireland and most of all – enjoy the people!