Tourism agencies plan to maintain visitor levels in 2017

‘Screen tourism’ strategy hopes to attract fans of Star Wars and Game of Thrones

Tourism Ireland is looking to capitalise on the growing market for “screen tourism”, such as attracting Star Wars fans to the Skelligs. Photograph: Caspar Diederik/Failte Ireland

Tourism Ireland is looking to capitalise on the growing market for “screen tourism”, such as attracting Star Wars fans to the Skelligs. Photograph: Caspar Diederik/Failte Ireland

 

After welcoming record numbers to the country in 2016, the general view is that tourism faces a more challenging year – particularly with sterling weakness in the wake of the Brexit referendum making the Republic of Ireland a less attractive proposition for travellers from Britain.

But Irish tourism agencies are not sitting on their hands. Sterling may be working against us but, by the same token, the dollar’s relative strength offers opportunity.

Tourism Ireland, which is responsible for marketing Ireland (North and South) abroad, is targeting a 9 per cent increase in revenue from North America in 2017.

It’s an ambitious target, given that the US delivered record numbers in the year just gone. But Tourism Ireland is undeterred. It chose New York to unveil its marketing programme for the year and made it clear that North America will be the focus of its efforts.

The plan is to bring an additional 100,000 visitors across the Atlantic on top of last year’s 1.6 million and encourage them to generate up to €1.6 billion for the economy.

The agency should get some support in its drive from additional seats on offer as airlines increase route options and seat capacity. It is also looking to capitalise on the growing market for “screen tourism” where travellers visit locations associated with movies and television series – in Ireland’s case, most notably the likes of Game of Thrones and Star Wars.

Meanwhile, Fáilte Ireland, which is charged with supporting the tourism industry in the Republic and making sure it offers a high-quality and competitive tourist proposition, is focusing particularly on the conference market.

Bigger events bringing greater numbers of generally high-spending visitors are seen as a key component of its plan to win €157 million in revenue from the business tourist market.

All in all, that should go some way to offsetting the blow from Britain, traditionally our largest market.

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