The French market has continued to grow in 2018 following record performance in 2017 with 539K visitors. The proportion of Holiday-makers is remaining strong and grew by 10% in 2017. April – June remains a real opportunity to win business from France as 33% of our visitors and holiday-makers travel during this period. 40% will book their holidays during Q1.
2018 had a slow start, impeded by airline and train strikes, however despite this the number of visitors from France is remaining stable. Regionality has remained central to our strategy and new access into Cork as well as sustained charter services into Shannon have helped to increase visitors into these regions of Ireland.
The island of Ireland continues to benefit from a strong and positive image in France. In 2018, Ireland ranked 5th overall as a destination the French aspire to visit in the future, behind strong sunny destinations Italy, Spain, Portugal & Greece.
Our main objective for 2019 is to promote a regionality and seasonality message in France and to build on this strong brand awareness to promote some of our lesser known icons that may be off the beaten track. Combined with a message promoting visitors to come during the shoulder and off season. We believe the French market will respond favorably to this proposition given that 33% of holiday-makers visit between April and June.
We will continue to work with Trade and Industry partners to promote specific packages and capitalise on the additional new access into Ireland with Irish Ferries, Aer Lingus and Air France as well as existing partners.
In terms of access, the island of Ireland remains very well served from nineteen French hub and regional airports as well as ferry ports in Brittany and Normandy. 46% of business from France comes from the greater Paris region and 19% comes from the West of France. Both regions are weighted more favorably in terms of our advertising presence. In order to capitalise on new access opportunities to the Island of Ireland we will launch an Ireland Regional Roadshow which will take place in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nice and Lyon.
Tourism Ireland France will continue to target the Culturally Curious and the Social Energiser segments which offer a greatest propensity to visit Ireland – particularly off season. We will look at key reasons for the French visitors to extend their stay and take advantage of a festival or two when coming on a weekend break. The Ireland v France rugby game on 10th March presents a good opportunity for us to target those travelling for the rugby and encourage them to stay a little longer, bring a partner and soak up some atmosphere in the environs of Dublin.
2019 messaging will lead with the launch of the new Ireland brand. This offers an opportunity for us to refresh how the French see our destination, think about off the beaten track locations and visiting during the shoulder season. We will continue to build on the success of the regional experiences and include a continued focus on coastal drives – The Wild Atlantic Way and Causeway Coastal Route. These have great appeal to French holiday-makers, 52% of whom will use a car during their holiday.
Game of Thrones will continue to be a wonderful vehicle to promote Northern Ireland and we will use The 148th Open, Royal Portrush as an opportunity to present the beauty of Northern Ireland as a destination for holidays. Planned activities will include partnerships with major golf media publications.
On the B2B side we will continue to provide platforms for island of Ireland industry via targeted in-market activities including workshops and networking events focusing on the key Group and Leisure Group sectors as well as developing the Luxury segment in areas with direct access routes. This will include targeting the lucrative “Comités d’Entreprises” sector to win incremental group business during the shoulder season.
There will also be several opportunities through e-zines and social media to participate with us and get your message across to French Consumers and Trade about your product offerings. You will find out more on www.tourismirelandindustryopportunities.com Our monthly Trade e-zine targets over 2,100 readers with product and industry related news from Ireland and news of French market campaigns. We will also continue to educate the travel trade with a series of webinars and information evenings.
Please check this website regularly as we make new marketing opportunities available throughout the year.
We look forward to working with you throughout 2019 and to building on the continued success of the French market for island of Ireland tourism.
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