Screen tourism: Irish connections to Star Wars and Game of Thrones used to encourage tourists to visit

Screen tourism highlighting Irish connections to movies and TV shows like Star Wars and Game of Thrones is one of the key areas being targeted to encourage visitors from North America to visit Ireland.

Filming the new Star Wars movie on Brow Head near Crookhaven, West Cork, last May. Picture: Dan Linehan

Last year was a record year for Irish tourism from North America, with 1.6m people making the trip across the Atlantic from the USA and Canada — up 13% on 2015. This delivered revenue of €1.4bn for the economy — an increase of 11% on the previous year.

In order to increase the figure and grow revenue from North American visitors by 9% in 2017, Tourism Ireland has launched its marketing plans for 2017 at an event in New York attended by leading tour operators, travel agents and journalists from the tri-State area.

As part of this strategy, ‘Screen tourism’ will remain a priority as Tourism Ireland will continue to capitalise on the Irish connection to blockbuster movies. It is hoped that promotions will grow tourism to the regions of Ireland, during the off-peak season.

The organisation also aims to target ‘culturally curious’ and ‘social energiser’ audiences with distinctive holiday experiences, events and special offers tailored to their interests.

Tourism Ireland will create “stand out” offerings for the island of Ireland in the US, highlighting experiences like the Wild Atlantic Way, the Causeway Coastal Route, Ireland’s Ancient East, and city breaks in Belfast and Dublin.

Speaking at the launch in New York, CEO of Tourism Ireland Niall Gibbons said the outlook for 2017 was very positive with a number of factors working in Ireland’s favour — including more airline seats than ever before between North America and Ireland.

“Looking to the year ahead, we are confident that our strategy, combined with more airline seats than ever before from the US, a strong dollar, as well as the strength and competitiveness of the vacation experience right around the island of Ireland, will deliver further growth.

“We look forward to welcoming more of our great friends from the United States this year and in the years to come.”

Tourism Ireland’s head of North America, Alison Metcalfe, said the organisation had a “clear focus” for 2017 to increase both visitor numbers and revenue.

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