Over 260,000 visitors from the Nordic region visited the Island of Ireland in 2018. The Nordic region – Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland –accounts for one of the highest average spends per visitor. With stable economies and political systems, Nordic consumers are willing and able travellers, collectively taking around 50m overseas trips per annum.
Tourism Ireland’s Nordic office in Copenhagen is active in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland. These are in order of priority, with Sweden and Denmark representing the largest prospects in the medium term. We run online activity in all five countries driving to one English language website. We have a very active publicity programme in Sweden, Denmark and Norway and we have relationships with Nordic travel trade in all five countries. We also work with air carriers operating services to Ireland from the region.
The majority of Nordic visitors to Ireland are slightly older (40+) and they are likely to be travelling in couples or with small groups of adult friends. The typical Nordic holidaymaker stays for an average of five nights in Ireland. Our target is to extend this length of stay. Nordics are very comfortable speaking English and enjoy meeting and talking with Irish people. City breaks, especially Dublin, are a key attraction for Nordic visitors. They are interested in Ireland's culture and history and enjoy high-quality local food and drink.
Direct Air Access
Direct air access to Dublin remains very good in 2020 with Ryanair, SAS, Norwegian and Finnair operating frequent weekly services year-round from all four Nordic capital cities. In addition, Great Dane Airlines operate a direct route from Aalborg (western Denmark) to Dublin and Ryanair operate a year-round Gothenburg-Dublin route (Sweden’s 2nd city). Due to the huge geographic area of the Nordic region, Nordic travellers are accustomed to taking connecting flights from small regional airports through the main city hubs to reach overseas destinations.
Climate change concern is high amongst Nordics and this is reflected in the 30% increase in train usage for internal travel.
Sweden: SAS and Norwegian Air operate a year-round Stockholm-Dublin route. Ryanair operates a year-round Gothenburg-Dublin route.
Denmark: Very good access with Ryanair and SAS both providing daily flights on the Dublin-Copenhagen route. Great Dane Airlines began operating a direct route from Billund (western Denmark) during the summer of 2019.
Norway: Very good access from Oslo to Dublin with SAS and Norwegian.
Finland: Year-round access with Finnair direct from Helsinki to Dublin.
Why should you target this market?
Direct flights to Ireland from the four main Nordic capital cities are around 2 hours, so they are short-haul markets. Nordic visitors are the English-speaking Europeans. Most are fluent in English from a young age. They can enjoy a trip to Ireland and engage with local people entirely in English without the need for any Swedish / Danish / Norwegian / Finnish / Icelandic translation. Industry partners can appeal to them very easily through English both at home and abroad. When in Ireland they are keen to speak with local people and are likely to make lots of spontaneous purchases. With higher salaries compared to other European markets, Nordics are less price-sensitive. They are willing to pay for high quality food and drinks and authentic, uniquely Irish experiences. Of all the short-haul markets they have one of the highest spends per head. Many Nordics are already big Ireland fans. They expect fun, humour, music and excellent local food and drink.
How to work with this market
Vibrant city life: Nordic visitors are looking for bars with Irish music and a lively atmosphere.
Top quality food is very important and Nordic travellers are less price sensitive about this than other visitors.
Irish whiskey is very popular, so distillery visits and whiskey products are a big attraction for the Nordic visitor.
Traditional Irish Music resonates very well. Nordic visitors are among the largest overseas group attending Temple Bar TradFest every year.
As high-income visitors, the majority will stay in 3* and 4* hotels. The Swedes are the most likely to seek out luxury hotels or castles.
With over 500k registered golfers in Sweden there is good awareness of Ireland’s golf product, especially our links courses which are open longer than most courses in the Nordics.
A notable characteristic of Nordic visitor travel patterns is the dominance of city breaks. Research tells us that 60%+ do not venture outside Dublin when visiting Ireland, something we are working to change. Nordic visitors are much less likely than other markets to rent a car. They are very open to using public transport but expect it to be convenient and easy to access.
Being active in nature and getting off the beaten track is important for Nordic visitors. However, experiences must be easily accessible from cities where Nordics are most likely to stay.
Our social media fan base grew substantially in 2019 – we gained many valuable social connections and increased direct customer engagement. We have 110,000+ Nordic Facebook fans, a steadily increasing number of Nordic followers on our English language Instagram page and 32,000+ GDPR-compliant contacts on our consumer database.
We will continue to focus on engaging with potential visitors through these platforms in 2020. Traffic is driven to our (English language) consumer website year-round through search engine marketing, online advertising, on- and offline publicity and social media campaigns. We encourage and promote special offers from the island of Ireland industry, which we advertise on our Nordic version of Ireland.com and through our weekly consumer e-zines. This activity is year-round, with a focus on the autumn and spring seasons as key booking periods.
Key themes in 2020
City+Plus breaks: longer stays in cities and their accessible hinterland by promoting Dublin, Surprising by Nature and Belfast City.
Longer holiday coastal tours including the Wild Atlantic Way and Causeway Coastal Route.
Outdoor activities including golf. We will continue to leverage the legacy of the 148th Open, Royal Portrush and tap into wider interest in golf breaks in Ireland.
Ireland’s Ancient East: particularly using the shared Viking heritage as a hook.
Northern Ireland: Games of Thrones and the Causeway Coastal Route including attractions such as The Gobbins will be highlighted in publicity and through online consumer campaigns and engagement with Nordic travel trade partners.
We look forward to working with you in 2020 and beyond to increase the length of stay and the quality of experience for our valuable Nordic visitors on the Island of Ireland.
Market contact: Peter Maag