independent

Wednesday 16 January 2019

Ambitious marketing plans to target UK tourists announced

Hook Tourism chairperson Philip Wallace
Hook Tourism chairperson Philip Wallace

David Looby

Plans to promote the Hook Peninsula to capitalise on a boom period in Irish tourism were unveiled at the Hook Tourism AGM in St Mary's Hall, Fethard-on-Sea.

The AGM was attended by around 50 tourism operators and community activists in the area. Hook Tourism Chairperson Philip Wallace said: 'There has never been a better time to be involved in tourism in this country and we all have good reasons to be optimistic.'

The company is funded to the tune of €280,000 by CE Schemes and €70,000 from Pobal. The not-for-profit company's marketing division is headed up by Graham Doyle of Hook Head Adventures. Having overcome a minor wi-fi issue in the old hall, Graham gave a presentation in which he described Hook Tourism as a destination marketing organisation. Graham said: 'We are like the builders of 2008. We are booming. Maybe the British visitors will plateau next year but we are looking at another increase so it is important that we take our piece of the pie. We have to actively go out and get that.'

Visitor spend for County Wexford in 2017 was largely on accommodation and food. 30 per cent was spent on B&B accommodation, 36 per cent for food and beverages, with 6 per cent for sightseeing. 'Brand identity is huge. We are talking in our tourism strategy about possibly creating a new brand for Hook Tourism, as well as a new website and that branding funnels down to everything we do so that we are a recognisable brand, domestically and internationally.'

New brochures, maps with illustrations and additional marketing are being produced and developed. Graham said 1,700 people a month visiting the Hook Tourism website, with 60 per cent visiting the website by mobile phones. 'They are looking at what's on. People want to know what events are on down on the Hook. Overwhelmingly 75 per cent are visiting from places around Ireland. That tells us where we need to grow the market.'

He said 8.1 per cent from the UK is minute. 'There is a market that is almost unexplored in terms of actually going after that market. Social media is huge and one of the plans is to have a budget and invest in a paid marketing campaign that will go after key potential customers. We plan to harness the power of social media influencers. These people are almost as credible as talking to your friend.'

The company is organising a familiarisation trip with key bloggers and influencers. 'If they read about what a blogger has experienced on the Hook Peninsula they are going to want to do it too. We will be kicking off strong with that campaign in January.'

Philip said with FLAG, Fáilte Ireland and other funding streams coming on board, there is much cause for hope of another great season in 2019. He thanked the staff of Hook Tourism.

He said: 'None of this is possible without our CE Scheme and the work they put in. We want to thank each and every one of the participants. The staff at the Hook Tourism office are on a training scheme while effectively carrying out the work of a professional marketing body so thank you for all of the work you put in.'

Philip praised Alan Ryan and his team for all of the work carried out improving Colclough Gardens. He thanked district director Eamonn Hore and manager Sinead Casey for their support of projects on the Hook and Hook Tourism directors. Mr Hore said the New Ross district has more wow things for tourists to visit on the peninsula than anywhere in Wexford.

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