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Tourism Ireland is sucking up to Aussies and trying to get them to visit us and bring their money. Aussies, we are coming to shake you down of your tourists dollars, don’t try to resist.

By Nicole Buckler

After the hordes of Americans have been and gone, all proclaiming themselves to be “Irish” (despite being 6th-generation Pennsylvanians etc) now there is a new target: Aussies. Suddenly we have realised how rich the Aussies are getting (on paper anyway, they haven’t had their housing crash yet but it’s coming). Irish tourist overlords are working hard to get the Aussie’s attention before their economy goes completely Pete Tong.

Tourism Ireland wants 20% growth in Australian visitors. Do you hear that Aussies? We need 20 per cent more of you showing up. Pull your finger out and get on that plane. Tourism Ireland also wants you to spend a hell of a lot more than you are, and they want you to stay longer too. All of this Irish specialness don’t come free. You gotta pay for all this awesome and then some. And you know you want it.

Ireland’s aim is a three-year strategy for growth with the number of Australian visitors to growing to almost 220,000 per year by the end of 2017.

So what has led us to want to romance the Aussies and their travelling whims?

-Recent strong performance: since 2010, visitors from Australia to the island of Ireland have grown by more than 40%. In 2014, more than 180,000 Australians visited the island of Ireland. Why are Aussies starting to fall in love with us? It’s all the flat caps isn’t it. And our white pasty skin and offers of a shift with a sexy accent…

-Strong cultural affinity: we share many things with Australians, including language, heritage, our sense of humour and our love of sport. We even drive on the same side of the road! Well most of us do, there are a lot of bad drivers in both countries.

-Improved air access: there are twice-daily, one-stop flights now available between Australia and Ireland (via the Middle East). If you know anything about planes, you will understand that most accidents happen on take-off and landing. Therefore now you are 1/3 less likely to have your legs catch on fire while flying from Auz to Ireland.

-High value visitors: Australians are highly prized visitors as they travel throughout the year, stay longer (on average 12 nights), spend more (about €900 – almost double the average visitor spend) and visit more of the regions of Ireland (Australians like to get off the beaten track – so are more likely than other nationalities to tour the regions and more rural areas of Ireland). Yes the Aussies have little tolerance for your Irish dancing shows in a pub over some dodgy soup and gross soda bread. Nope they want to take selfies on wild cliff tops and beside ring forts in isolated paddocks full of sheep crap.

And in general, Aussies are starting to go abroad more and more. They have got the sun and beaches at home, so they are looking for something INTERESTING to see. Australians took more than 14 million trips overseas in 2013; and more than one third of all those trips were made to Europe.

So here’s what the stats say about these Aussies we are trying to romance:

There are two types of Aussie travellers to Ireland. The “culturally curious” visitor tends to be the discerning traveller who wants to expand their horizons by exploring landscapes, heritage and culture. They are usually older, with no children at home (many are aged between 51 and 64). Let’s call a spade a spade. They are rich and they don’t have expensive whiney children sapping their bank accounts and looking for charge points for their i-Whatevers. They are free to spend their money on themselves, dammit.

The “social energiser” traveller is looking for new experiences in unique locations; they tend to be under 35 and don’t yet have a family (many are in their early twenties). These are the lunatics who will get a lift to the Skellig islands and try to camp in a beehive hut for the night while trying to light a fire by rubbing two iPads together. Come on over, social energisers! Quick, before someone gets pregnant and you have to get a godawful mortgage!

Irish tourism bosses know we can’t compete with England, France and Italy. But what we can do is strategically cling on. We need to tell Aussies that they have come so far to see France, why not hop on a ferry and see Ireland too? We won’t compete; we will steal side-business. We CAN however compete with second-tier choices of European destinations, such as Spain and Germany; as well as similar destinations to Ireland, such as Scotland and Wales. Back off Scots and Welsh, we see you with your Celtic languages and we will raise you a decent football team.

Aussies, come on over. And for goodness sake, bring your money with you.


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