posted on June 18th, 2019

Canada offers significant potential for Northern Ireland tourism – according to new research

Canada offers significant potential for Northern Ireland tourism, according to new research unveiled in Belfast by Tourism Ireland today.

The Canadian market has performed strongly for tourism to Northern Ireland in recent years. In 2018, almost 66,000 Canadians visited Northern Ireland (+8% on 2017), spending almost £19 million. In fact, Canada was the fourth largest overseas tourism market for Northern Ireland in 2018 – in terms of visitors, holidaymakers and spend. 

The island of Ireland is now the seventh most popular European destination for Canadian travellers, in a growing outbound market. Canadian visitors are highly prized as they tend to stay longer, spend more and visit more of our regions than the average visitor. One in four Canadian visitors include Northern Ireland as part of their island of Ireland vacation.

Tourism Ireland aims to build on the success of recent years. The organisation undertook research of the Canadian market this spring, which examined the profile of our current Canadian holidaymakers. It also identified the opportunities and challenges which will drive growth in Canadian visitor numbers to Northern Ireland over the coming years.

One of the key factors working in our favour is the number of direct flights from Canada to Ireland. Summer 2019 will see an estimated 10,627 direct, one-way air seats available each week from Canada to Ireland – from major gateways including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Halifax, Hamilton and Calgary. 

Tourism Ireland’s research has identified a number of opportunities which will help deliver growth in Canadian visitor numbers. These include:

  • shoulder and off-peak travel: year-round, direct flights allow us to promote Northern Ireland for shoulder and off-peak season travel;
  • ‘new’ icons: highlighting our lesser-known visitor attractions and experiences allows us to promote the ‘newness’ of a holiday here – particularly to repeat visitors;
  • strong interest in soft adventure, hiking and golf among Canadian travellers; 
  • the appeal of a combined island of Ireland and GB holiday in the winter months; and
  • the increasing popularity of weekend city breaks among Canadian travellers.