Fáilte Ireland unveils 2023 plans to help drive sustainable recovery of tourism

Fáilte Ireland unveils 2023 plans to help drive sustainable recovery of tourism

‘Visitor satisfaction is high but offering good value for money is critical to convert domestic intention into domestic bookings’ – Paul Kelly CEO 

Fáilte Ireland has today unveiled its plans for 2023 to help support the sustainable recovery of the tourism sector this year.  

The plans were announced at a special virtual event for the tourism industry watched by over 1700 tourism operators, providers and employers from across the sector. 

Fáilte Ireland’s plans in 2023 focus on 7 key areas:* 

  1. Business Recovery  
  2. Tourism Careers  
  3. Domestic Marketing  
  4. Opening the Outdoors   
  5. Industry Digitalisation 
  6. Destination Development  
  7. Climate Action. 

CEO Paul Kelly explains Fáilte Ireland’s focus. “Our plans for 2023 are built around 7 key pillars that we believe will lead to transformational change. These are driving sustainable recovery at the level of individual businesses; supporting employers and employees in making tourism an attractive long-term career; accelerating growth in domestic tourism; enhancing our outdoor tourism product and the quality of visitor experiences in destinations; building the digitalisation of the industry and driving climate action.” 

Paul Kelly added:  

“The domestic market is critical for sustainable recovery and plays a key role in driving regional and seasonal spread. Looking at the domestic market, consideration for taking a domestic holiday in 2023 is at 82% which is in line with 2019 levels and intention to take a domestic break in the next 3 months is at 23%. Visitor satisfaction is high but offering good value for money is critical to convert this domestic intention into domestic bookings.”  

“A recent analysis conducted by Fáilte Ireland’s Economic and Industry Analysis team showed the tourism sector lost €12billion in revenue due to the pandemic. The very welcome and comprehensive package of Government supports injected approximately €6billion into the sector to keep businesses alive but the sector still had to manage through a huge net loss of €6billion in revenue.”  

Fáilte Ireland also unveiled details today of its new Motivations Framework** which has been created using behavioural science and extensive research to understand peoples’ motivation for travel. Understanding what really motivates people to travel will provide tourism businesses with useful insights to help shape their offering and experiences and inform their sales and marketing activities. 

Fáilte Ireland’s Head of Consumer Planning and Insights Jill De Azevedo explains:   

“The Framework adds rich context to the way we view consumers. There are many ways we can understand tourists’ habits and preferences. Why they travel; why they choose their destinations; their behaviours while taking a break. For tourism businesses, understanding these motivations is important to understanding demand. As consumers and tourists, we all have multifaced motivations for travel. Our research shows that the ‘why’, the actual motivation, is the most important factor that influences the choice of destination and behaviour while on a break.” 

In her address to welcome Fáilte Ireland’s plans Minister Catherine Martin TD said:
“The Government remains committed to supporting the recovery of tourism. I welcome Fáilte Ireland’s priorities for 2023 and I look forward to seeing the results across the country of their ambitious plans. While I know hotel capacity, energy costs and labour shortages are real challenges for the industry this year, I am continuing to direct significant resources to support the sustainable recovery of the sector. In Budget 2023 I secured additional funding for the industry in the areas of marketing, skills and staffing, product development and sustainability.”  

Today’s virtual launch is being followed by in-person events for industry across nine regional locations this week.  

Read CEO Paul Kelly’s Opening Address for the Fáilte Ireland 2023 Plans Launch here.

*Fáilte Ireland Priorities for 2023  

1. Business Recovery 

To support recovery at the level of the business Fáilte Ireland will be engaging with over 1,000 businesses to build their capability and expertise in areas such commercial acumen, reducing operating costs, revenue generation and improving customer experiences.  

2. Tourism Careers 

In 2023 Fáilte Ireland will continue to help build businesses’ capabilities in recruiting and onboarding staff as well as promoting careers in tourism to the next generation of talent from Transition Year programmes at secondary schools through to third level colleges and the ongoing development of tourismcareers.ie. 

With so many new staff coming into the industry post pandemic, there is an acute need for upskilling in a range of areas and Fáilte Ireland’s new online learning hub will provide a platform to focus on three key strands to:  

Deliver structured induction programmes and initial skills for new staff  

Deliver skills enhancement to support career progression 

Drive business performance focusing on in-demand skills like customer service   

Fáilte Ireland will continue to support employers build their capability and reputation as providing an excellent working environment through our Employer Excellence Programme.  In 2023 Fáilte Ireland will be focusing on getting more businesses on the Programme.  It will also launch a new scheme designed for businesses of less than 20 employees and providing tailored supports to businesses to drive consistently good employment practices.  

3. Accelerate Domestic Tourism  

This year, Fáilte Ireland has ambitious plans to increase tourism revenue from the domestic audience, which includes the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. To do this, Fáilte Ireland will  

Continue to focus on and invest in its regional brands. 

Grow the numbers of consumers who say they ‘Intend to take a trip in Ireland’ through the Keep Discovering campaign, RTÉ weather sponsorship and other media channels 

Encourage consumers to book a trip by promoting festivals, events, occasions, and other great reasons to travel 

Build new partnerships with third parties to promote new campaigns and drive bookings, and Fáilte Ireland will use its websites to drive customer referrals directly to tourism businesses  

And Fáilte Ireland will continue to provide industry with easy-to-use best practice tools through our sales and marketing supports 

4. Opening the Outdoors 

This year, working with its partners in local authorities, Fáilte Ireland will complete 6 urban animation projects, 23 public realm enhancements in destination towns and deliver 4 major Outdoor Dining projects, adding nearly 460 extra outdoor dining seats to the 4,000 seats already delivered.  

Fáilte Ireland will also complete 3 of its new world class water sports changing facilities and continue to work on the development of the remaining 17. Working with its partners in Waterways Ireland, Fáilte Ireland also plans to bring two new Blueways up to accreditation standard. 

Fáilte Ireland will continue to improve walking and cycling trails. Working with Coillte, Fáilte Ireland will deliver 300km of Mountain biking trails and will continue its work with the Department of Transport enhancing the visitor experience on our Greenways, focusing on 3 in 2023. Fáilte Ireland will also continue to work with Department of Rural and Community Development on the Walks Scheme. In long distance walking, plans will be developed for both the Beara Breifne Way and the Wild Atlantic Way Coastal Path.  

Fáilte Ireland will also continue to work with the national parks and wildlife service on enhancing and expanding the visitor experience at our beautiful national parks. 

What better way to showcase Ireland’s outdoor tourism offering than through participative events like running and triathlon competitions. Fáilte Ireland started a pilot scheme last year and hopes to expand this in 2023, with the aim of growing the events into festival weekends for friends and family.  

5. Industry Digitalisation 

The Digital that Delivers programme is a ground-breaking initiative from Fáilte Ireland, designed to power digital transformation for visitor attractions, activity providers and day tours over a two-year programme. This programme supports businesses to showcase their product in front of more domestic and international customers, grow online sales, and develop digital skills. Businesses on this programme will become more promotable, searchable, and ultimately bookable online. Fáilte Ireland is delivering this programme in partnership with leading digital experts to provide training, mentoring and financial supports. These include a bespoke digital roadmap and action plan, grant funding for projects to enable areas like website enhancement, improved booking systems, new content and digital marketing strategies. 

227 businesses will graduate from the programme in 2023 while a further 200 will be recruited to start a 2-year digital transformation programme this year.  

Expressions of Interest for the next Intake of the programme will start in the coming weeks and more information will be shared through Fáilte Ireland channels in advance of that.   

6. Destination Development and Distribution 

Fáilte Ireland will be launching its 4 long term regional tourism development strategies, to develop 10 new destination level experience development plans this year and it will continue to progress a nationwide pipeline of 27 large scale attractions. Fáilte Ireland has 3 of these projects opening in 2023, Mount Congreve House and Gardens, in Co. Waterford, a new national surf centre in Strandhill and Queen Maeve’s Square in Sligo.  In order to attract visitors and enhance their experience, Fáilte Ireland directly funds and works with 45 key festivals and will support a further 200 through regional funding with Local Authorities.  

Fáilte Ireland is providing 15,500 contracting opportunities for over 900 Irish businesses at 8 in Ireland sales platforms, including at the flagship Meitheal event which will be in Killarney in March. It also works with all 96 Irish based inbound agents together with Tourism Ireland and will provide over 670 Irish businesses the opportunity to attend 48 international leisure sales platforms organised by Tourism Ireland. Fáilte Ireland will also be working with all stakeholders to develop new strategies to grow the Golf and Luxury segments.   

On the Business Tourism side, after a very successful restart year in 2022, Fáilte Ireland has ambitious targets again for 2023 where it wants to generate €275million worth of new leads, convert leads into confirmed events worth €192million in future revenue and support the delivery of confirmed events worth €210million in 2023.  

As 75% of all international conferences that come to Ireland are secured with the help of a Conference Ambassador, Fáilte Ireland will be launching a targeted Conference Ambassador recruitment campaign in the coming months. It will also enhance conversion supports program and together with Tourism Ireland, our department and the industry will launch a new strategy for the future growth of business tourism. 

7. Driving Climate Action  

This year, Fáilte Ireland will work with 350 strategic tourism businesses who are already actively using our favoured carbon calculator, the Government-developed Climate Toolkit 4 Business and for the first time, we will establish base line data for the tourism industry.  

Fáilte Ireland will use its climate action Road Map toolkit to work with businesses to develop an action plan to support the reduction of their carbon footprint while also reducing their costs by making changes in areas like Energy, Food, Water and Waste.  

Fáilte Ireland will design, develop and start to roll out an umbrella certification programme that will allow businesses to showcase their sustainability credentials to industry and importantly, to customers. 

Fáilte Ireland will invest €500,000 in its first ever marketing campaign specifically to promote businesses that are demonstrating real progress on the sustainability journey.

Fáilte Ireland will be collaborating with Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland to enhance the tourism relevance and eligibility for their grant schemes.  

**Motivations Framework – Background 

There are many ways we can understand tourists’ habits and preferences.  

why they travel  

why they choose their destinations   

their behaviours while taking a break 

The why - the motivation - is the single most important factor that drives domestic breaks and destination choice.  Understanding and unpacking these motivations becomes a rich lens through understanding demand. 

Case study: Female, 45+ yrs, with children living with partner.  She could be looking for a great family holiday, so everyone gets to spend quality time with one another.  She could also want to take a short break with girlfriends and spend time reconnecting with them. Or, in another trip occasion, she could be looking for an outdoor adventure to do something which is a little out of her physical comfort zone. 

We are therefore, so much more than just a demographic, or even a persona.  Our motivations are multi-faceted and can be somewhat complex.  This is not to say that demographics are not relevant.  They are, but our conversations are enhanced and more effective when we understand the reasons why consumers travel. 

Using this thinking, Fáilte Ireland has developed a Motivations Framework in which seven key motivations have been identified.  These underpin all domestic travel.   

The Motivations Framework has been developed from rigorous research and insights as well as input from experts in this area. None of the motivations are mutually exclusive, but the primary motivation will always be the most important for a particular trip. The percentages in the Motivations Framework wheel reflect the total size of each motivation in domestic travel.  

Fáilte Ireland analysed over 5,000 travel occasions.   

  1. Social Energy.  This motivation is driven by a desire to have fun, to be in a high energy atmosphere with like-minded individuals and to immerse oneself in all that a travel occasion has to offer.  While night life is the most important, ease of access, local food and drink, and availability of things to do are also an important characteristic for this motivation.  Typically, city breaks, festivals and sports events would sit in this motivation and it is skewed towards younger unconstrained adults.  However, at the same time, unconstrained adults 45+ also index in this space. 
  2. Adventure, at 16% of all travel motivations, is led by the desire to test one’s own personal limits or to go outside of one’s own personal comfort zone.  At the same time, it is not about extreme sports and instead about doing something physical over and above normal activities. The motivation is typified by outdoor activities and a consumer will usually only engage in one of these activities while on a trip.  The occasion will be focused and intense.  It is all about the depth of an experience, rather than the breadth of multiple experiences.  Solo travel over indexes in this motivation, although couples are the primary demographic profile. 
  3. Exploration, at 17%, is heartland territory for tourism and is about discovering and exploring new and unfamiliar places.  It is also the motivation where landscape, history, culture and place all come together.  They are not seen in isolation from one another and therefore interconnected experiences are important.  Both attractions and activities play a strong role in this motivation.  Tourists are looking for multiple attractions and activities with which to engage and enrich their trip.  This motivation is skewed towards 45+ unconstrained adults. 
  4. Time Out is what it says – time to turn off the phones and step away from day-to-day life.  It is time to spend with one’s significant other, time that is cherished and which is low key in activities.  It also a time for treating oneself.  The location must be easy to get to, and is often one couples have wanted to spend time in. 
  5.  Reconnection, at 11% is that time spent with friends where the focus is on relaxation, reconnecting and enjoying treasured moments.  It is all about ease and convenience and not having to worry about anything when it comes to a trip.  While there is little engagement in activities and attractions, friends in this motivation are likely to go to gigs or festivals while together. 
  6. Bonding is a strongly emotive segment and is all about creating lasting family moments and memories.  It’s about focusing on those relationships which are most important to us and feeding the sense of nostalgia. Trip length tends to be longer in bonding than it is in the other motivations.  It is also where we see the most habitual behaviour when it comes to destination choice and is dominated by families as the demographic profile.  As a result, children’s needs and requirements drive all behaviour and choices, with safety and security being paramount.  A family trip brings different days and different motivations and as a result, this motivation feeds into Social Energy, Adventure and Exploration particularly. 
  7. Celebration, which is focused on celebrating and rejoicing in special milestones and achievements such as birthdays, weddings, graduations etc.  It is characterised by short stays that are in convenient locations. 


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