Since the pandemic began, Tourism Ireland has been tracking the opinions and behaviours of overseas consumers regarding travel to Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland.
This work has included an extensive programme of consumer research in our main markets – to really understand what overseas consumers are thinking and how their mindset is changing, as we move through the crisis. Tourism Ireland’s aim is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the changed consumer and the new international marketplace, to identify when consumers will be ready to consider holidaying again and which markets will offer us the best prospects in 2021.
The latest round of research was carried out in November in our top four overseas tourism markets: GB, the United States, Germany and France, with a particular focus on the US. The research was undertaken by RedC Research.
Some of the main findings of the latest phase of Tourism Ireland’s COVID-19 research include:
Holidaymakers are still planning and dreaming of their next trip. Personal indulgence and a treat after the difficult lockdown period are driving motivations to travel.
Lower rates of COVID-19 and a vaccine will be the most influential factors to encourage travel over the coming months. However, clear comprehensive insurance, high quality available healthcare and testing will also be important.
November saw the lowest levels of comfort among holidaymakers about taking a European trip, since the programme of research began. This corresponds with significantly increased levels of COVID-19 in each market at the time of the research.
Northern Ireland and Ireland are considered among the most comfortable destinations for a short break or holiday during social distancing. Comfort levels have reduced, however, for both the island of Ireland and for other competitor destinations.
Summer 2021 is most commonly seen as the next window to take a break in Europe.
Planning remains an important part of the holiday experience – including research into travel costs, COVID-19 security and cancellation policies.
Many respondents were undecided about their holiday destination for 2021. Word-of-mouth, official government sources, price comparison websites and travel agent websites are expected to be among the most influential sources when it comes to destination choice.
This programme of research will fundamentally shape Tourism Ireland’s future activity as the organisation plans for 2021 and how we will begin to recover growth in overseas tourism.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on overseas tourism to Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland. Recovery will depend on many factors – not least the mindset of the overseas consumer and how this is evolving. We have been tracking consumer opinion and behaviours in relation to travel here, since the pandemic began.
“This programme of research will fundamentally shape our activity as tourism recovers in 2021. It will help us identify when consumers are ready to consider holidaying again and which of our markets offer us the best prospects. The insights we gain will ensure that our future promotional plan is as tightly targeted and as powerfully motivational as it possibly can be, in order to drive a strong recovery.
“This latest phase of research was carried out prior to recent good news about vaccines; I am confident that there will be an improvement in the sentiment among respondents in our next wave of research.”