Expect an influx of social energisers and culturally curious tourists in 2013 … as well as the G8 leaders

Slugger readers in Great Britain who fall into the marketing segments of “social energisers” and “culturally curious” should expect to see adverts tempting them across the shuck Irish Sea in 2013 to “explore the landscapes, history and culture we have on offer”.

  • social energisers = 18-34, no kids; heavy social networkers; often living in London, Glasgow and Manchester; wanting urban holidays with friends; looking for daytime activities.
  • culturally curious = 45+, living with partner/married; use social media but not heavy sharers; enjoy the countryside and sites; looking for history and culture.

Last week in a post I asked what NI would be remembered for in 2013. From a tourism perspective, the ni2012 Our Time Our Place tourist and promotional campaign (by the NI Tourist Board) focussed on a series of events around the Titanic centenary, the opening of the replacement visitor centre at Giants Causeway and the Irish Open golf championship.

Today, Tourism Ireland launched their £15 million 2013 marketing plans in Belfast. In case you’re wondering, Tourism Ireland is an all-island body …

… established under the framework of the Belfast Agreement of Good Friday 1998. We are jointly funded by the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive on a two to one ratio, and operate under the auspices of the North/South Ministerial Council through the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland and the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport in the South.

Tourism Ireland works with the two tourist boards on the island, Fáilte Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, who are responsible for product and enterprise development and marketing to tourism consumers within the island of Ireland. [from Tourism Ireland website]

Tourism DETI Minister Arlene Foster summarised next year’s emphasis:

A major programme of promotional activity is being planned around Londonderry as the UK City of Culture, and this will allow Tourism Ireland to put the city, and Northern Ireland, on the map in a completely new way.

Tourism Ireland aims to attract more visitors from overseas with a focus on the City of Culture events, the World Police and Fire Games and the worldwide publicity that will undoubtedly be generated by the recent announcement that the G8 summit is to be held in Fermanagh.

Tourism Ireland’s chief executive Niall Gibbons, said:

Next year is about delivering growth in the continuing difficult climate … In particular the Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 celebrations will provide fresh and compelling reasons for people across the world to visit. The G8 summit also presents an unprecedented opportunity to showcase Fermanagh and Northern Ireland – not only to world leaders but to the international media … And we will continue to work closely with our tourism partners, both at home and overseas, to achieve our common objectives and help drive economic regeneration.

(Political nuance watchers will note the avoidance of “Derry” or “Derry~Londonderry” in the DUP minister’s statement when referring to the UK City of Culture.)

There’s a strong emphasis on balancing digital and traditional print/media advertising. There are some synergies between the northern and southern marketing plans of Tourism Ireland: for example golf, and the North American promotional strapline of Make Ireland Jump Out.

However, promotion of City of Culture is NI-specific, and The Gathering (which was a central plank of Tourism Ireland’s launch in Croke Park last week) is RoI-specific and has no mention in the northern plans. While I’m sure some worldwide advertising will merge both messages, it does seem odd – in fact it seems unnatural – not to have a greater acknowledgement of the totality of the Tourism Ireland campaigns at today’s launch?

At least the get-into-two-countries-for-the-price-of-one-short-term-waiver-visa offer is still on to encourage people who travel long distances* to enjoy all the island has to offer. (* only applies to sixteen countries which are deemed to be “emerging markets”: Eastern Europe: Belarus, Montenegro, Russian Federation, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine; Middle East: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; Other Asian: India, Kazakhstan, Peoples Republic of China, Uzbekistan.)

The minister also referred to the “provisional” tourism figures announced last week that pointed to a decline in visitor numbers and countered them with more positive statistics.

Titanic Belfast smashed its visitor targets, with 615,000 people passing through the doors to date. Visitors came from 111 countries, with a ratio of 64% out of state. A Belfast Visitor and Convention survey showed a 14.1% rise in visitors coming to the city, with a 21.7% increase in people coming to the city from the Republic of Ireland. The new Giants’ Causeway visitor centre has already welcomed over 300,000 visitors from 130 countries since its opening in July.

Despite this week’s resurgence in rioting, Tourism Ireland seem to have resisted the temptation to sell Northern Ireland under the banner of “Troubles tourism”, perhaps aimed at the “conflict curious”: war correspondents, muralists and brick makers.

There are a couple of intriguing charts in the Tourism Ireland’s slidepack presented this morning. I wasn’t there to hear the explanation. I’ve combined them to show the Ireland and Northern Ireland data on the same chart. The circles refer to the right hand access, looking at people perceiving destination as the best. It’s not clear who the competitor is; perhaps somewhere like London or Scotland.

Perception-wise, NI lags the rest of the island. I’ll pop a query into DETI/Tourism Ireland … but in the meantime, feel free to leave your guesses as to what the chart means in the comments below.

Alan Meban. Normally to be found blogging over at Alan in Belfast where you’ll find an irregular set of postings, weaving an intricate pattern around a diverse set of subjects. Comment on cinema, books, technology and the occasional rant about life. On Slugger, the posts will mainly be about political events and processes. Tweets as @alaninbelfast.