Tourism Ireland, the Irish government agency charged with promoting the country’s vital tourism industry, laid out detailed plans last week at events in New York with the aim of bringing Americans back to the Emerald Isle now that the pandemic is receding.  

Prior to Covid-19, Irish tourism interests were heavily dependent on Americans making the journey across the Atlantic – in 2019, there were 1.7 million American visitors to the island of Ireland, generating $1.9 billion in economic activity.  

According to a press release, “Tourism Ireland will roll out its biggest ever marketing program in the United States, to restart overseas tourism to the island of Ireland.

"Following a difficult two years for the tourism and hospitality sector, Tourism Ireland will upweight its campaigns, aim to cut through the clutter and convert ‘lookers’ into ‘bookers.’ Tourism Ireland’s message is that Ireland is open for business again and that we cannot wait to welcome back American visitors.”

Last Wednesday evening, after hosting a luncheon for local Irish American journalists, Tourism Ireland welcomed guests at the AMC Lincoln Square IMAX theater to unveil the new giant-screen documentary film called "Ireland," which is narrated by Liam Neeson.  

“The film was produced by MacGillivray Freeman Films of which Tourism Ireland is the global presenting partner. Ireland celebrates our rich history, culture, arts and music, as well as our spectacular scenery,” the press release added. 

This month and beyond, Tourism Ireland’s Green Button campaign will take center stage in many key American cities, promoting Ireland as a great place to visit.   

“The campaign is running across multiple channels in key gateway cities and priority markets (including New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Dallas), to reach and engage audiences with the highest potential to travel to Ireland.

"Green Button TV ads will be seen on-air and online, on major television networks ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox, around popular shows with large audiences. Ads are also running on leading streaming services like Hulu, WarnerMedia, YouTube TV, Sling TV and Discovery+. The TV and digital campaign will reach an estimated 92 million people and will deliver over 600 million impressions (opportunities to see) this year,” said the press release.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, traveled to New York for last week’s events.

“As we restart overseas tourism to the island of Ireland, we are rolling out our biggest ever program of promotions in the all-important United States market this year. We know from our research that there is significant pent-up demand among travelers to return to the island of Ireland as soon as possible,” he said.

“However, we also know that there is significant competition in the marketplace; every destination has experienced the impact of Covid-19 and is now seeking its share of the recovery. Our campaigns will therefore need to punch through the noise and create an immediate desire to visit.”

Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s executive vice president, North America and Australia, said, “We are rolling out our Green Button restart campaign in the United States right now, encouraging travelers to starting planning and to book their trip to the island of Ireland. Our extensive program of high-impact campaigns and promotions is targeting those consumers with the great potential to travel to Ireland. 

“Our message is very simple: Ireland is open for business, there is good summer air access, and we cannot wait to welcome back visitors from the United States.”

Among Tourism Ireland’s 2022 initiatives is a partnership with Riverdance, the popular Irish dance and music extravaganza which is resuming its 25th-anniversary tour of the U.S. 

*This column first appeared in the March 9 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.

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