Air connectivity is also good, meaning that 92% of these visitors to Northern Ireland came direct in 2013. In 2013 Great Britain residents took 2.1 million overnight trips in Northern Ireland which compares to 4.7 million overnight trips in Republic of Ireland. The average stay for a British holidaymaker on the island of Ireland is for 3 to 5 nights with longer holidays taken in July and August. British visitors are more likely to visit one destination at a time and they spend the highest proportion of their budget on food and drink.
Ease of access is seen as a particular advantage to travelling here from Britain with short air trips and the ability to bring the car. Language and currency add to the simplicity of a holiday in Northern Ireland for British visitors who tend to come primarily for relaxation and are less likely to engage in historical or cultural activities than tourists from other parts of Europe or North America. Connections with local people are often cited as being important to British visitors who seek an authentic experience that goes beyond the average tourism itinerary.
Northern Ireland’s main competition in the Great Britain short break market are comparable destinations within Great Britain and Republic of Ireland, and also cities such as Amsterdam for city breaks. Scotland is seen as best for scenery and exploration, Devon and Cornwall for families, and the Lake District for peace and quiet. The challenge is to make British holidaymakers aware of the benefits of choosing a break in Northern Ireland over the competition. This will require tourism businesses to emphasise the region’s strengths especially convenience, uniqueness, warmth of welcome and the big tourist attractions of the Giant’s Causeway and Titanic Belfast.
Growing the GB market
Northern Ireland needs to appeal to the key Great Britain market segments (defined in detail on pages 36 - 41) with relevant and targeted tourism propositions that are tailored to the interests, needs and motivations of the Great Britain visitor and which give them a fresh perspective on Northern Ireland, value for money and reasons to remember and talk about their trip. This can be done successfully by building tourism offerings around ‘must see and must do’ hero experiences, a process that will require collaboration across the industry and the development of offers that the Great Britain consumer can choose and buy easily. Research has identified three ‘best prospect’ segments for Northern Ireland from the Great Britain market – Social Energisers, Culturally Curious and Great Escapers, which are described overleaf.
Top destinations for the GB traveller:
9. Island of Ireland
What accommodation do they use?
Friends and relatives 26%
How do they travel?
80% get here by plane
20% hire a car when here
20% bring a car
Have they visited before?
Will they return?