Tourism Northern Ireland has launched its “Embrace A Giant Spirit” campaign, which features 23 new experiences designed for group and FIT organisers that offer compelling reasons to visit.
Julie Wakley, head of GB at Tourism Ireland, said the marketing body is targeting the “culturally curious” – independent travellers and those who come via tour operators. “They tend to be slightly older, interested in culture, and interested in really getting under the skin of somewhere… We also target what we call ‘social energisers’, who tend to be slightly younger and slightly more interested in the adventurous side of things.”
The campaign is aimed at making it easier for agents to find unforgettable experiences and create seamless itineraries for their clients. It highlights the as-yet largely undiscovered parts of Northern Ireland by tourism, the variety of activities available and its proximity to the UK.
“In terms of access, we have almost 75,000 weekly seats over to Northern Ireland from 23 different airports, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to visit,” said Wakley.
But rather than increase visitor numbers, Tourism Ireland is focusing on increasing visitor spend. “In 2018, Northern Ireland welcomed 2.7 million overseas visitors,” said John McGrillen, Tourism Ireland’s CEO. “We probably don’t need to double the number of visitors, we want a few more high spenders – but of course we would like to see at the end of this forthcoming decade over 5 million overseas visitors.”
To attract those additional and high-spending visitors, the Embrace A Giant Spirit campaign offers experiences that allow visitors to gain an understanding of Northern Ireland’s culture and heritage and engage with the local people.
The 23 experiences include following Belfast’s traditional music trail; walking the clifftops of the Causeway Coast; following in the footsteps of generations of salmon fishermen and crossing the bridge from the present to the past; and getting hands-on to discover the craft behind the world-famous Belleek pottery. There are food tours and whiskey tours, walking and boat tours, and tours to get to the heart of rural Northern Ireland.
And the trade remains key to getting the message out. “Our travel trade are always really important for us. They take people out and about, beyond the city centre spots, so from the perspective of experiencing the whole of Northern Ireland agents are really important to us,” said Wakley.