Tourism Ireland held a media event in Toronto on Wednesday evening to unveil their new fall/winter campaign.
This year marks the first time Tourism Ireland has had the opportunity to present Ireland as a destination for all seasons, with direct airline service previously being limited to end of April through early October.
Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s Executive Vice President, U.S. & Canada, spoke to this newly scheduled year-round service. “For the first time ever, we have seen a significant increase in air access, with new and increased service from Air Canada Rouge, Aer Lingus, and WestJet.”
Earlier this week, Tourism Ireland introduced a new strategy for the Canadian market, entitled ‘Canada: Land of Opportunity – A Strategy for Growth 2014-2016.' The plan sets out ambitious targets which will see the number of Canadian visitors to the island of Ireland grow by 47 per cent to 184,000 by the end of 2016, delivering revenue of $181 million.
“What we have now is an opportunity to encourage Canadians to visit Ireland, particularly the cities – Dublin, Belfast, Galway – during the shoulder and winter seasons. They are travelling to other European cities – why not Dublin? And unlike so many other European cities, Dublin is very accessible to great sea and landscapes.”
Approximately 125,000 Canadians visited Ireland in 2013, while the projected numbers for 2014 stand at 154,000 and are expected to continue growing through 2015, and beyond.
The strategy focuses on two markets: The ‘Culturally Curious’ – 45+ year olds looking for authentic travel experiences; and the ‘Social Energizers' – 25+ year olds spending more time exploring in the city centres. Both suggest great potential for travelling in what would otherwise be considered the off-season. With arts, culture and culinary destinations open and accessible throughout the year – along with related events and festivals – there is a wealth of attractions to engage and captivate both groups of targeted consumers.
“Tour operators and airlines are putting a lot of new product in packages to sell between that end of October and early April period,” says Metcalfe, “and really, it’s a new opportunity to really grow our business in Canada.”
In comparison to many other European destinations, Metcalfe states, “We’re open year-round. Ireland is less busy, less crowded, and more affordable.” And now, it’s also much easier to travel to and from.
Guinness Storehouse shares recipe for success
Guinness Storehouse is the #1 visitor attraction in Ireland, and offers a much bigger experience than just beer and Guinness. Eibhlin Roche, Media Relations Manager for Guinness Storehouse, explains.
“When people think of Guinness, they think of Ireland, so we try to tell that story to the traveling public. One of our unique selling points is that it’s a brewing experience right in the heart of a working, living brewery.”
“We have a huge amount of tour operators coming through, and have a dedicated entrance for preferred tours that come in. We also have audio guides that are free of charge, and we have a one-hour demonstration, which is our ‘Perfect Pint’ experience.
"We know we have a lot of visitors with tight time schedules, but they can still come through and get the whole experience.”
Last year, Guinness Storehouse welcomed 1.5 M visitors.
For more information, visit trade.ireland.com/CA or www.ireland.com.