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Market Performance

The Italian market delivered a record number of 384,000 Italian visitors to the island of Ireland in 2018, an increase of 9% on 2017. Looking ahead, we forecast stable Italian visitor numbers for 2019: while the month of September saw an increase of 12% on the same month last year - an additional 4,400 Italian visitors – overall arrivals from Italy in the period from January to September 2019 were down 2% on the same period in 2018, after many years of continuous growth. We are positive about future potential growth with direct air access from Italy working in Ireland’s favour.

Direct Air Access

It has never been easier for Italians to fly direct to the island of Ireland. Summer 2019 saw a 5% increase in direct flights to Ireland from Italy. The two leading airlines serving Ireland from Italy’s main cities are Aer Lingus and Ryanair, and together with seasonal routes operated by easyJet and Jet2 to Belfast and by Volotea to Cork, combined capacity for summer 2019 was just over 24,000 seats per week on direct flights to Dublin, Belfast (1,270 seats per week), Cork and Ireland West Knock.   

Ryanair has announced a new Verona/Dublin route for Summer 2020 which will operate three times per week, while Aer Lingus will serve Dublin from Alghero (Sardinia) and Brindisi in the south of Italy. Ryanair Pisa/Dublin route will continue to operate this winter and they also introduced a new Milan Malpensa/Dublin route which brings to 4 daily services from Milan to Dublin. Volotea will continue its twice weekly service to Cork from Verona for Summer 2020, easyJet serves Belfast twice weekly from Venice year-round, while Jet2 operates a weekly service to Belfast from Naples, April to October. 

Overall direct access is available to Ireland from 16 Italian cities in summer, and winter access is also stronger than ever. This direct access creates significant opportunities for you to grow your business from the Italian market. Throughout 2020 we will continue to work with access providers to help them promote their current routes and identify opportunities for additional route development.

Why should you target this market?

Give the industry a reason or overview as to why they should target this market
Italian visitors are more likely to be holiday makers, to stay longer and to spend more than visitors from many other markets. In 2018, Italian visitors contributed €202M to the economy across the island of Ireland, and they stayed an average of 9 nights. In 2018, well over half (61%) of all our Italian visitors came to Ireland for a holiday. Italians value quality and are prepared to spend well where they see value for their money. Often late bookers when it comes to packages or accommodation, we are seeing evidence of Italians now booking their flights earlier, to avail of good value web offers. As part of Tourism Ireland’s sustainability strategy, we are working on driving more regional and off-season business from this market and year-round opportunities are available to you to get involved. While keen to see as much of the island of Ireland as possible, some Italians are reluctant to hire a car. For this reason, it is important to include information on public transport options to make it easy for them to reach your location.

How to work with this market

Best Prospects 
A recent review of the Italian market by Tourism Ireland confirms the Italian Culturally Curious as the segment which offers the most potential for the island of Ireland. These holidaymakers are motivated by Ireland’s stunning scenery and by our authentic culture. Getting to meet local people and understand their lifestyle is a key part of the holiday for these Italian visitors. Good quality local food is an increasingly important theme which we use to engage Italians, alongside images of iconic landscapes and the authenticity of our live music tradition. You can find a handy strategy card with more insights and tips on how to reach Italian visitors here.

Brand Image
Ireland has a strong profile in this market, we’re in the top 5 on the wish list of places Italians most want to visit. Our press office works hard to secure excellent exposure for the island of Ireland as a holiday destination across Italian print, TV, radio and digital media (in 2019 from January to October, this coverage was worth more than €13M in equivalent advertising value). We have a large digital footprint with more than 1.4M visits to the Italian version of Our social community numbers 384k fans and followers across Facebook, Twitter and fast-growing Instagram and we work increasingly with key influencers and bloggers in the market to help us reach new audiences.

Upcoming Activity

We have a strong programme of promotional activities planned for 2020 and it is easy for you to get involved.
In line with our ambition to drive more business from Italy into the regions and outside of the peak season, in 2020 we will launch our campaigns in Q1. Take advantage of this extra Ireland visibility and contact us to sign up for some activity in the Italian market early in 2020.

Some of our key activities directly targeting Italian consumers include weekly consumer e-zines, social media campaigns and extensive press office activity, as well as partnership advertising campaigns. Check out our “Digital Bundles” (Entry, Standard and Premium packages), and our Instagram opportunity. We also have several B2B opportunities targeting tour operators and travel agents such as trade promotions, webinars and e-zines, if you are keen to reach a trade audience.  We take a stand at TTG, Italy’s number one B2B travel show, in October and offer space for up to 7 Irish partners.
Please register your interest in the Italian market to receive alerts, as we will be creating new seasonal opportunities right throughout 2020.

If you have any questions, or would like some tips on the Italian market, just drop us a line or give us a call, we will be happy to help. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to grow your business from this important market in 2020. We look forward to working with you to deliver new business from Italy!

Click here to view our complete market profile for Italy.

Market contact: Mary O'Connor