Island of Ireland Tourism Marketing strategy condemned by First Minister of Northern Ireland

Island of Ireland Tourism Marketing strategy condemned - Peter Robinson
Island of Ireland Tourism Marketing strategy condemned - Peter Robinson

With Brexit pending many tourism operators on the Island of Ireland are curious about how the relationship between the UK and Irish governments will pan out in the future if promotional agreements are not set in place, especially when it comes to the marketing of the Irish tourism (North and South).

Presently Tourism Ireland actively promotes Northern Ireland Tourism products – most notably the Titanic Museum and the Giants Causeway.

But Brexit is not the first time the promotion of all Island tourism has come up.  

This week more state papers from 1995 (State papers are confidential UK gov docs released to the public after a 30-year rule)

In papers released this week, many media outlets are reporting that the former Frist Minister of Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson of the DUP took issue with the idea of promoting the island of Ireland as a single destination and was extremely critical of the idea.

The promotional partnership was the focus of a series of meetings involving Bord Fáilte and the NI Tourist Board (NITB) after the 1994 paramilitary ceasefires.

Perry McDonnell of the Department of Economic Development at Stormont wrote to his counter parts in the Irish government after a series of meetings to say “I believe both departments are convinced that the tourism industry in Ireland is capable of making a greater contribution to the economy, particularly in terms of increased revenue and added employment.”

He would later go on to inform the Chief Executive of NITB, Ian Hernderson that a strategy promoting the Island of Ireland would be the first choice of visitors. He wrote “full cooperation between all involved in tourism, north and south, respect for cultural diversity and a strong island of Ireland identity”.

Peter Robinson was having none of it and condemned the Northern Ireland Tourism body (NITB) for its ‘Vision’ to pursue an all-Ireland strategy.

It is fair to say that the DUP and Mr Robinson (The east Belfast MP) felt that there were “important political implications” and in their opinion the benefit of “all Ireland involvement” would be extremely marginal to the north.

Robinson accused NITB of “pandering to the government’s plans for an all-Ireland approach…by its new logo of a shamrock and a red leaf in the centre”.

Despite the marketing politics of the past, it will be interesting to see how the relationship pans out after Brexit, and how they intend to market tourism packages to international visitors.