St Patrick’s Global Celebrations are Launch Pad for Major First Half Overseas Tourism Drive

The London Eye, Burj Al Arab in Dubai, Table Mountain in South Africa, the Empire State Building in New York, the Sky Tower in Auckland – and for the first time ever, Niagara Falls and the TV tower in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz – are just some of the iconic buildings and attractions around the world which will ‘go green’ this year to mark St Patrick’s Day and to kick off Tourism Ireland’s major first half promotional drive to grow overseas tourism.

Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar stated: “St Patrick’s Day provides a unique shop window for Ireland around the world, for Irish tourism and for trade and investment. That’s why we are using St Patrick’s Day to launch The Gathering 2013 in all of our main overseas markets. The Gathering 2013 will be the most important tourism initiative ever staged in Ireland, as we will be inviting the world to come and visit us. This greening initiative and the other promotions will ensure we build up to 2013 by sustaining growth in overseas tourism in 2012.”

Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “Over 70 million people around the world claim links with the island of Ireland and St Patrick’s Day is a truly unique opportunity to reconnect them with their heritage and to showcase our wonderful tourism offering to a huge global audience. People across the world instantly identify St Patrick’s Day with Ireland and that heightened profile allows us to put the Ireland holiday experience in the spotlight – from London to Sydney and Stockholm to New York.

“Our ‘greening’ initiative takes place again this year, with some famous additions like Niagara Falls in the US and the TV tower in Berlin and there are a few others that we’ll be keeping up our sleeves until closer to the day. Our aim is to bring a smile to the world and to convey the message that Ireland continues to offer a warm welcome, fun and spontaneity, alongside fantastic scenery and cultural activities. Our St Patrick’s programme will span Great Britain, Mainland Europe, North America, Australia, as well as developing markets such as China, India and South Africa. There will be saturation coverage of the island of Ireland across the airwaves, in newspapers and digital media and that’s an invaluable boost for our overall tourism marketing drive.

“Our message this year is that there has never been a better time to visit the island of Ireland, with better-than-ever value from industry partners here and great things to do and see,” continued Niall Gibbons.

In Great Britain, our largest and most important tourism market, major sites including the London Eye will ‘go green’ on St Patrick’s Day, to capture the imagination of potential
holidaymakers and focus attention on our intensive spring marketing drive. Millions of people in Britain and elsewhere around Europe will be tuning in to watch the England v Ireland rugby match at Twickenham in London on 17 March; Tourism Ireland’s highly visible sideline advertising will capitalise on the huge exposure of this high profile game. Tourism Ireland will participate in St Patrick’s promotions in Glasgow, Birmingham and London, capitalising on the opportunity to put the island of Ireland in a positive publicity spotlight.

In North America, Niagara Falls will ‘go green’ on St Patrick’s Day (on both the Canadian and the US sides), as will the Empire State Building in New York, the Chicago and San Antonio Rivers and the famous White House fountains. Ireland will ‘jump into’ Times Square on 17 March, when about 1.5 million New Yorkers will see Tourism Ireland’s new ads on the world-famous FOX screen. Tourism Ireland has a host of consumer and trade promotions taking place around St Patrick’s Day and throughout the spring in the US, including sponsoring live coverage of the New York St Patrick’s Day parade on NBC, with film clips on Ireland.

For the first time ever, Tourism Ireland has arranged for the iconic Fernsehturn (television tower) in Berlin and the “Lighthouse” in Düsseldorf to ‘go green’ on St Patrick’s Day, to grab the attention of potential German visitors in both cities. Five skyscrapers – the Hötorgsskraporna buildings – in central Stockholm will also ‘go green’ over three days (15-18 March). Key Swedish travel trade and media contacts will be invited to attend a Tourism Ireland event in a venue overlooking the ‘greened’ Hötorgsskraporna buildings, at which TV chef and culinary blogger Donal Skehan will present a ‘flavour of Ireland’ and the new Aer Lingus flight from Stockholm to Dublin (service begins on 25 March) will be highlighted.

France and Germany are two of Tourism Ireland’s ‘top four’ markets and extensive TV advertising in both countries will reach almost 29 million potential holidaymakers this spring; the campaign in Germany also incorporates a cinema, radio and online advertising drive. Co-operative print advertising is under way around Europe in conjunction with Aer Lingus, targeting 5 million readers in cities with Aer Lingus flights to the island of Ireland.

In Dubai, the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel will ‘go green’ on 17 March, as will South Africa’s Table Mountain – a World Heritage Site and one of Cape Town’s most iconic landmarks and visitor attractions. The spotlight will be on Galway and Ireland when the Volvo Ocean Race arrives in Auckland in New Zealand just in time for St Patrick’s Day. The race attracts huge publicity around the world and with Galway due to host the grand finale this summer, the Auckland stopover is a great ‘hook’ for Tourism Ireland to reach the estimated 200,000 people who will visit the race village. And, once again this year, Auckland’s Sky Tower will ‘go green’ on 17 March.

A large group of international journalists – representing 33 top media outlets from around the globe – will visit Ireland, taking in the Dublin St Patrick’s Day parade during their time here.

“Tourism Ireland’s first half campaign is focused primarily on our top four source markets which offer the best business prospects this year – Great Britain, North America, France and Germany, which together deliver about three-quarters of all our overseas visitors. However, it is important that we expand our focus beyond these markets and look to the long-term opportunities presented by the emerging tourism markets, like the BRIC countries and the Middle East,” said Niall Gibbons. Tourism Ireland, together with industry partners, has undertaken a number of travel trade missions in recent weeks to new markets including to Russia (Moscow and St Petersburg), the Middle East (Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait) and India (Mumbai and Delhi), meeting with key tour operators and travel agents, to ensure the island of Ireland fully capitalises on these new tourism markets. In China, Tourism Ireland will work to maximise the tourism potential of the recent visit of the Chinese Vice President, urging potential holidaymakers there to come and follow in the footsteps of Mr Xi.

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