With new direct air routes and more US visitors deciding to include Northern Ireland in their itineraries for the first time, America will continue to be a key market in Tourism Ireland's 2024 plans, CEO Alice Mansergh tells IrishCentral.

Launching this year's US marketing drive in New York, Mansergh announced Tourism Ireland plans to grow overseas tourism revenue by 5.6 percent per year over the next six years to 2030.

The United States remains Ireland's largest tourism market with family, ancestral and heritage ties a key driver, but Ireland's remarkable tourist offerings are competing strongly with those ancestral ties she explains. 

“When we survey consumers about what they associate with Ireland overseas, the three things that always come up are scenery, heritage, and people. I think that people is a sort of easy way to describe the warm welcome that visitors receive. But when you go a bit deeper, I do think it gets back to the arts.”

“It's about our storytelling, our sense of humor, our literature, acting music, dance and it's so exciting at the moment to see so many wonderful actors and actresses, whether it's Cillian Murphy with his Oscar nomination, or whether it was An Cailin Ciuin as the first Irish language film featured at the Oscars, it really is a moment in Irish culture,” Mansergh continues.

“At Tourism Ireland, we can't claim any credit for the talents of all our wonderful artists but we do love to amplify their stories and show visitors where they can find the Irish filming locations for iconic shows like Game of Thrones or Star Wars and encourage people to come and visit.”

“Tourism is one of the biggest indigenous industries on the island of Ireland, with 70 percent of the tourism jobs actually based outside of Dublin,” Mansergh continues. 

“Our role is overseas marketing of the island of Ireland, so what we want to do is to inspire and delight visitors and help them make memories of a lifetime on the island. And then when people come and do that, what it does for the economy and the island of Ireland is it supports all of these communities right the way around the island who thrive through welcoming visitors. 

“And so we're targeting a 5.6% year over year increase to 2030 in the value of overseas tourism to the island of Ireland. But obviously that only happens when we surprise and delight visitors. And so what we want to do in our marketing is make sure we're telling all the best stories and showcasing what there is to see and do, particularly focusing on the places, the regions, the seasons that people might not have discovered yet.”

“St. Patrick's Day we're super proud of as its wonderful festival and encourages 100,000 people to come and visit and travel around. But St Bridget's Day was a bigger celebration this year too. We were marking 1500 years of St. Bridget. Her history goes back into being a goddess in pagan time, then a saint.”

Derry City hosts the biggest Halloween parade in Europe

Derry City hosts the biggest Halloween parade in Europe

“Then at the opposite end of the year we really want to tell the story of Halloween because it's one of the world's most loved festivals, but not everybody knows yet that the island of Ireland is the home of Halloween. Or that it all started in Celtic culture on our island 2000 years ago. So there's brilliant new festivals popping up like the Puca (Ghost) festival in County Meath with our partners in Failte Ireland, or the spectacular Derry Halloween celebration with Tourism Northern Ireland, which is the biggest festival of its type in Europe.”

Mansergh concludes: “This year we'll be encouraging people to come and experience the home of Halloween and everything that we have to offer through fall and autumn. It's about telling the stories that can showcase different aspects of the island and encourage people to come back or to visit for the first time.”