Restarting International Tourism to Ireland in 2021

Monday, February 08, 2021. 6:08pm

Tourism Ireland will shared it’s plans for restarting overseas tourism in 2021 – at a virtual event, called ‘Ready for Recovery’, which will be attended by hundreds of tourism companies from around the island of Ireland and overseas.

After a devastating 2020 – with COVID-19 causing havoc for the travel and tourism industry across the globe – 2021 will see the restart of international travel. Tourism Ireland is actively planning for that restart. The organisation has a three-phase plan to RESTART, REBUILD and ultimately REDESIGN demand. The priority for next year will be to RESTART tourism to the island of Ireland.

Right now, Tourism Ireland is planning a significant kick-start campaign, which will be launched when the time is right, possibly around St Patrick’s Day 2021 – to drive bookings and revenue for tourism businesses. It will deliver a very clear ‘book now’ message to create demand for summer holidays here, in order to save businesses and create jobs.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, said: “I am really pleased to see that Tourism Ireland is launching its plans for 2021 today. This year has been hugely difficult for everyone involved in tourism in Ireland and particularly those invested in overseas markets. The fact that we have had to take public health measures which have effectively closed off inbound tourism has been very challenging.

Tourism remains in survival mode at this time. However, I am satisfied that the steps I have taken to support jobs and businesses in the sector, along with the horizontal measures adopted by Government, mean that key strategic tourism enterprises will be in a position to benefit from the recovery when it comes. We can now see some positive signs with regard to vaccines and I am confident that the resilience shown by the industry will begin to pay dividends in the months ahead. The plans set out by Tourism Ireland today will be critical in putting Ireland in the forefront of consumers’ minds in our key overseas markets. I look forward to seeing overseas tourists back in Ireland as soon as circumstances allow.”

Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “This has been a catastrophic year for everyone in our industry, but I do believe that tourism can, and will, recover from this pandemic. Recent news about vaccines is really positive and gives us hope for travel in 2021. In our research, Ireland has consistently been shown as one of the destinations that holidaymakers would be most comfortable visiting, even while social distancing measures are in place. So, while we in Tourism Ireland certainly don’t underestimate the challenges that may lie ahead, we look to 2021 with hope and optimism.

“As international travel begins to restart next year, it is clear that keeping the island of Ireland front and centre in consumers’ minds will be critical. Every destination across the globe has experienced the impact of COVID and will be seeking their share of the recovery. When the time is right, Tourism Ireland will need to punch through the noise and create an immediate desire to visit. Flexibility, above all, will be absolutely key.”

Tourism Ireland’s end-of-year promotional activity
Christmas is traditionally a key holiday-planning period for the year ahead. Tourism Ireland will roll out a major digital video campaign during this Christmas holiday period, to build anticipation for future trips to Ireland. Called ‘Let’s get back to Ireland’, the online film will be promoted on social media in 12 different markets, including Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, the Nordic countries and the UAE. To view the film, click here.

A campaign targeting the Diaspora is under way in Great Britain, the US and Canada. This will run until mid-January in print and digital media, such as, Celtic Life International magazine, The Irish Post and The Irish World newspapers, to encourage the Diaspora to travel home, as soon as it is possible to do so. The campaign also includes Tourism Ireland’s support for ‘Other Voices: Home at the Guinness Storehouse’, a live virtual concert which will take place later today; Tourism Ireland will highlight the concert around the world, cross-posting the livestream on its Facebook.

Tourism Ireland’s global social campaign – #FillYourHeartWithIreland – which has been running since April, will continue into 2021. To date, the campaign has achieved excellent engagement with fans and followers on social media, delivering 541 million impressions (or opportunities to see) on Facebook channels and 37 million video views. This month, it includes a special #ChristmasInIreland promotion.

Looking to 2021
While remaining very flexible and ready to adapt quickly to changing conditions, Tourism Ireland has developed a clear plan. This will include the launch of a significant new kick-start campaign, as soon as the time is right. While Tourism Ireland will remain active in all markets, closer-to-home markets and North America are likely to provide the greatest opportunities in 2021.

Highlights of activity in the pipeline for 2021 include:
‘The Green Button’ campaign: a major new campaign will be launched, possibly around St Patrick’s Day, with a very clear ‘book now’ message. The campaign – called ‘The Green Button’ – will single-mindedly drive visitor numbers and intention to book a trip to Ireland in 2021. Filming for the campaign will take place early next year. It will include a focus on outdoor experiences and will feature some of our iconic attractions – including Trinity College, the Cliffs of Moher, Titanic Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway and Lough Tay, to name but some. The concept revolves around creating a commitment to travel here by ‘pressing the green button’ – green being the universal colour of ‘go’ and instinctively connected with Ireland and St Patrick’s Day.

Redeveloped and enhanced digital marketing capability: digital marketing has been increasingly important for Tourism Ireland in recent years. However, 2021 will see a step-change in its capabilities in this area. A significant redesign of Tourism Ireland’s international website,, has been under way throughout 2020. The new site is currently going live; in all, there will be 33 market sites, in 30 different countries, in 11 languages. It will be fundamental to Tourism Ireland’s proposed kick-start success in 2021.

Tourism Ireland will also double its email database of consumers around the world; this will ensure a ‘warm audience’, known to be interested in visiting Ireland – and ready to be persuaded to visit, when the time is right.

Major broadcasts in 2021: as international travel begins to restart next year, it will be more important than ever before to keep Ireland ‘top of mind’ with potential visitors. Major broadcasts in the pipeline for next year include an Ireland food travelogue fronted by celebrity chef Donal Skehan on PBS in the United States; Hidden Ireland, hosted by respected American travel journalist Peter Greenberg, also on PBS; and Adrian Dunbar’s Scenic Ireland on Channel 5.

Virtual trade promotions: Tourism Ireland, together with 320 tourism industry partners, will participate in around 25 virtual trade promotions in Q1 2021 – meeting, and doing business with, important travel trade contacts in 10 different markets. These will include ITB Berlin NOW, the PGA Merchandise Show, the Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show, as well as virtual sales missions to the GCC, Austria and Switzerland.

Global Greening 2021: hundreds of iconic landmarks and buildings around the world will take part in Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening 2021 initiative around St Patrick’s Day. From Brussels to Buenos Aires and from Sydney to San Francisco, a host of buildings and sites around the world will light up in green to mark our national day. This will be the 12th year of Global Greening.

Flexibility and agility will be key elements of Tourism Ireland’s work in 2021.

Niall Gibbons said: “Once this crisis is past and Ireland is open again to overseas visitors, we in Tourism Ireland will be ready to play our part in delivering a sustainable recovery, for the long-term future of our industry. We know that, while unquestionably the short-term priority for our industry is to restore economic sustainability, our success in attracting future overseas visitors will be increasingly dependent on the demonstration of environmental and community sustainability as well. We will be doing everything that we can to recover as much business as possible and to return our great industry to growth.”

Tourism Ireland’s success in supporting the restart of overseas tourism and driving business development is dependent on many factors. However, there are three key pillars of action:
i. Consumer motivation: Tourism Ireland will continue to monitor the global impact of COVID-19. Its extensive programme of COVID research will continue in 2021, with findings informing its promotional activity and plans. Other research projects will look at the potential of luxury travel and ‘ultra high net worth’ travellers, as well as the potential of the golf and outdoor activities market.
ii. Air and sea access: as an island destination, connectivity is critical. Working with air and sea carriers, Tourism Ireland will work to secure the return of vital routes in 2021 and beyond.
iii. Industry and travel trade: Tourism Ireland will continue to support its tourism industry partners across the island of Ireland, as well as the travel trade overseas, to ensure maximum sales opportunities are achieved.

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