Always one step ahead of the game, the UK and Ireland have been witnessing positive tourism results. Natalie Hami reports.
The many fascinating destinations that comprise the UK and Ireland have historically appealed to visitors from far and wide.
However, despite its traditional tourism strongholds, industry movers and shakers are intent on reaching out to a plethora of visitor types, including film buffs. Cities such as Belfast and Birmingham are upping their tourist appeal by capitalising on what’s come to be known as ‘screen or film tourism’.
Marketing director, Hastings Hotels, Julie Hastings explained that Northern Ireland is renowned for its screen tourism with many successes across film, TV drama, animation, games and factual entertainment, which continue to boost the local economy.
“Visitors from across the world travel to Northern Ireland to visit the filming locations of Game of Thrones, Derry Girls and Line of Duty, to name just a few. This year, the Everglades Hotel in Derry-Londonderry has launched a new Derry Girls Package with a themed Derry Girls Afternoon Tea and location tour. Guests also get to take home the hotel’s very own Michelle the Derry Girls Duck.”
The rapidly growing interest in screen or film tourism was also highlighted by director, Marketing Liverpool, Chris Brown, who told TTG: “Film tourism is an increasingly important sector for the city, following on from international hits such as Peaky Blinders, Tin Star, War of the Worlds and Yesterday. That growth will continue further in 2020, with products supporting it, including tours and experiences.”
Whilst these culturally similar destinations are keen on exploring more modern avenues of tourism, industry stakeholders are ever at the ready, skilfully working to impress first-timers with more authentic experiences.
Visitors to Britain’s historic and fast-paced capital city are always spoilt for choice.
Director of marketing, The Doyle Collection in London, Alison Wheatley listed a number of fascinating experiences for guests, highlighting that the Collection works closely with local partners and tourist boards. Visitors can indulge in an indoor/ outdoor dining concept, Dalloway Terrace at The Bloomsbury, or enjoy complimentary Blue Badge guided walking tours and access to shows and exhibitions via the Collection’s partnership with the V&A and Royal Albert Hall.
Guests staying at The Guardsman in Westminster, London, will soon have the chance to experience an intimate and exclusive ‘home’ in London, according to the property’s general manager, Eva Mount. Opening this spring, The Guardsman is nestled among some of London’s most prestigious landmarks, with the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace just a short walk away. Mount highlighted that a unique London experience can be organised by the hotel’s guest experience team.
Meanwhile, the birthplace of the legendary Beatles, Liverpool will be taking centre stage as a city of music, culture and sports this year, according to Brown of Marketing Liverpool. Art enthusiasts can make their way to Liverpool Biennial 2020, featuring artists from over 40 countries, to create and present new work in public spaces, disused buildings and traditional galleries.
Moving away from the whir of the city and venturing northwards to breath-taking Scotland, managing director, Carey Tourism, Benjamin Carey elaborated on how visitors can enjoy the destination’s exceptional wilderness.
“There are so many wonderful things for visitors to experience in the UK, especially in Scotland. But perhaps one of the most unusual and memorable is Natural Change, offering unique Transformative Wilderness Retreats at the remarkable Alladale Reserve in the Highlands for groups and individuals. Natural Change helps leaders reconnect with nature and find exceptionally effective ways of creating change that really matters.”
Alladale Wilderness Reserve is a 23,000-acre gem in the Scottish Highlands, about an hour and a half north of Inverness.
Despite the political turmoil surrounding Brexit, industry stakeholders are adroitly and strategically staying ahead of the game by casting their gaze beyond Europe’s borders to seek out new source markets.
Referring to Brexit, Carey told TTG: “Whilst change and uncertainty can be challenging, it also offers opportunities, and Carey Tourism is advising a range of enterprises on how to capitalise on these.”
When it comes to exploring new and lucrative markets, one such region is MENA, according to Carey, who said: “In the UK, meat is often halal, especially in Asian restaurants, but it is not labelled as such. Whilst destinations can obtain halal certification from a variety of organisations, the development of Halal tourism is essentially having accurate information about the availability of Halal products and promoting this information in Muslim markets.”
Emphasising that the UK & Ireland’s tourism movers and shakers are casting their nets far and wide, general manager, Ashford Castle and the Lodge at Ashford Castle, Niall Rochford communicated an interest in the Middle East, New Zealand and China to TTG. The property, located in County Mayo, West Ireland, will be exploring these feeder markets though existing partners such as The Travel Corporation, Leading Hotels of the World and Tourism Ireland.
Hastings Hotels has also been keen to consolidate its connections with both the Chinese and American markets, according to Julie Hastings, in the footsteps of its ‘China Ready’ accreditation, awarded by the Chinese Outbound Tourism Research Institute. “The group has identified new American markets to explore, so there will be sales missions to Austin and Atlanta,” she said.
Indeed, access to these fruitful markets is intrinsically linked to the development of new routes to the UK and Ireland. Managing director, Park Hotel Kenmare, Ireland, John Brennan explained that business to a rural location such as theirs (heritage town of Kenmare, County Kerry) is based on flight access.
“We have 19 North American connections so there are lots of opportunities. In March we will attend Bamford retail locations in New York and also host a St Patricks Day event at Gravtyre Manor in England. Such introductory events are wonderful for business,” said Brennan.
Brown of Marketing Liverpool echoed a similar sentiment: “We have strong links with Liverpool John Lennon Airport for short-haul European routes and Manchester Airport for long-haul, specifically targeting China, India, the US and the Middle East.”