The Irish government has pumped an extra €10 million into efforts to attract new air and sea routes, the country’s tourism minister Brendan Griffin has told TTG at WTM.
Brendan Griffin, minister of state at the Irish Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, said Lauda’s new Vienna-Shannon route could be directly attributed to the fresh funding.
Griffin said the cash would sustain existing routes and deliver new ones by making access via air and sea more viable. “These are vital entrance points to our country,” he said.
It follows Norwegian’s decision in August to axe all six of its Irish transatlantic routes by mid-September just two years after they were launched in July 2017.
Griffin said that while the low-cost carrier’s decision to stop flying from Dublin, Shannon and Cork to the US and Canada came as a “major setback”, it was something Ireland would – and could – overcome.
“Those routes to [Boston] Providence and [New York] Stewart were a major breakthrough for us and a real boost for the regions,” said Griffin. “So these are the parts of the country where we are working really hard to bring in more routes.”
Meanwhile, the Irish government has allocated an additional €6 million to Tourism Ireland’s 2020 budget to fund a wider Brexit reassurance campaign promoting the limited certainty around Brexit and the existence of the Common Travel Area.
“The key thing is that we are now in the position of avoiding a hard no-deal Brexit; that’s positive news for everyone, but particularly for the tourism sector,” Griffin told TTG, stressing the campaign was particularly important in the context of the “sheer importance” of the British travel market to Ireland.
“42% of overseas visitors come from Great Britain, and they constitute 24% of all overseas tourism revenue,” said Griffin. “When you’re dealing with figures of this magnitude, you really don’t want logistical problems [like Brexit].”
However, despite the “difficulties” and “negative commentary” around Brexit and the impact on logistics, Griffin revealed visitor numbers from Great Britain had actually increased during the first nine months of the year, albeit with revenue coming in “slightly down”, which Griffin attributed to “uncertainty among consumer sentiment” and fluctuations in the value of sterling.
Griffin added some of the money would also be invested in “co-operative marketing” with regional airports and airlines with the aim of bringing more people to Ireland and then dispersing them more broadly rather than overloading Dublin.
Additionally, Ireland will step up its Fill Your Heart with Ireland campaign this winter in an effort to reach an additional 14 million prospective British visitors through investment in TV, radio, print and cinema advertising, as well as via digital channels such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and catch-up services, Griffin said.
It will also launch major new TV campaigns in the US, Germany and France, and digital campaigns in Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Nordic countries.