Ireland News

Heritage Island to attract over 14m visits

One of Ireland's oldest tourism co-operative marketing groups is celebrating 25 years marketing the island's cultural and heritage attractions.

Heritage Island, the marketing group representing the premier visitor attractions and heritage towns throughout the Island of Ireland, is one of Ireland's oldest and most successful tourism co-operative marketing groups. This year, it is 25 years old and represents over 90 of Ireland's top attractions which, between them, are expected to attract over 14 million visits during 2017, with most of their visitors arriving from overseas.

Heritage Island members cover the broad spectrum of cultural and heritage attractions throughout Ireland, including historic houses, castles, museums, parks, interpretative centres, gardens, caves, distilleries, aquariums and heritage towns.

Members include iconic attractions such as The Guinness Storehouse, The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, Titanic Belfast, The Giant's Causeway, Trinity College Old Library and Book of Kells Exhibition, Belleek Pottery and Enniskillen Castle.

According to Heritage Island's Managing Director, Caroline Rice, "2017 is a milestone year for Heritage Island; we have been promoting Ireland's premier attractions for a quarter of a century. The company was established in 1992 out of a belief that Ireland had amazing cultural and heritage attractions that were being enjoyed and lauded by visitors, but were not always being marketed effectively, often for budgetary reasons. And, even the major attractions that were actively marketing themselves recognised the importance and the power of collective marketing, and they welcomed and supported the new company. Back then, as is still the case, co-operative marketing allowed each participating attraction to reach a wider audience. Importantly, collectively it enabled us to promote the uniqueness of Ireland's culture and our dramatic and colourful history, inviting potential visitors throughout the world to come and explore it - all of which helped to raise the tide of tourism into Ireland, to the benefit of our members".

Caroline Rice added, "Heritage Island pre-dates Google and other search engines so, back then, it was all about reaching consumers directly; influencing tour operators to programme and promote Ireland's attractions, and encouraging the travel media to highlight our members and Ireland as a cultural and heritage destination. Through the years our marketing approach has continued to be traditional 'hands-on' marketing, which is so important and effective and which too many tourism providers are moving away from. However, in addition, digital marketing has enabled us to amplify the message that Heritage Island attractions give great insights into our culture and history and provide wonderful and memorable experiences.

"When we started in 1992, Ireland attracted just over 4 million overseas visitors to the island; this year Ireland is on target to attract close to 12 million visitors. Of course, there have been many contributory factors to Ireland's tourism success, but our cultural and heritage attractions have, through their own efforts, and through participation in Heritage Island co-operative initiatives, played an important role. Last year, 85% of visitors to Ireland highlighted that our history and culture was a key factoring in choosing to holiday in Ireland".

Heritage Attractions are Tourism Treasures

Caroline Rice said, "While all Heritage Island attractions are special, there are a small number of attractions who have partnered with us since our beginnings in 1992 including Enniskillen Castle ad Belleek Pottery. They have spent a quarter of a century working with us to actively market their attractions while contributing to Ireland's overall effort to encourage more and more visitors to enjoy our culture, and to understand and explore our ancient past.

In addition to contributing to Ireland's overall tourism growth, they have played a key role in dispersing visitors throughout the island, and they are heroes within their regional economies. They attract visitors to their areas, encourage overnight stays, provide wonderful experiences, and they stimulate spend within their catchment.

We believe that Enniskillen Castle and Belleek Potter are Tourism Treasures and, in presenting them with a specially commissioned scroll to mark their 25 years, it's an accolade Heritage Island are pleased to confer upon them".

Image: Caroline Rice from Heritage Island presenting to Patricia McCauley at Belleek Pottery.