Fáilte Ireland, the State tourism agency, is urging businesses in the industry to target visitors from emerging markets such as the Gulf nations, India and China, whom it says can drive up to 10 times the revenue of an average visitor.
The agency will on Thursday hold a training event in Dublin for tourism businesses, focusing on how to win business from these emerging markets.
Irish inbound tourism is at record levels, with total overseas visitor numbers in 2017 of nearly 10 million. The market is, however, heavily exposed to British visitors, who account for about 40 per cent of the total, and American visitors, who provide another 20 per cent.
In recent years, especially in the period since the Brexit vote, policymakers have nudged the industry towards diversifying into other markets. The return of value-for-money concerns about the Irish market among European visitors is also fuelling concerns about the need to branch out.
In particular, the Chinese market, with its legions of newly wealthy, is coveted as a source of future growth. Irish officials recently led a trade mission of 29 tour operators to China, while direct links from Ireland to the wider region are being opened up by airlines including Cathay Pacific and Hainan.
“In the context of Ireland remaining competitive, it is important to diversify and improve on the customer experience based on the needs and cultural differences of these markets,” said Paul Keeley, Fáilte Ireland’s director of commercial development.
“Many of those travelling from the emerging markets can be termed as luxury travel visitors. The luxury traveller has the potential to drive between 3.5 and 10 times the revenue generated from the average visitor,” he said.
The 150 industry attendees at Thursday’s training event will be taught sales tips and cultural insights for doing business in emerging markets, with speakers from international hotel groups, media and travel groups.
It will also include a segment on Fáilte Ireland’s programme Get China Ready programme, which highlights the opportunities available in that market.