Tourism Ireland has promoted one of its senior marketing officials to head up the UK office amid declining visitor numbers
Julie Wakley, who previously covered consumer marketing as deputy head of the department, will take the reins with the aim of encouraging Brits to holiday in Ireland.
She had previously worked as marketing manager for BBC Politics and Current Affairs and was part of the government’s ‘GREAT Britain’ campaign which sought to maximise economic benefits in 2012 through the promotion of trade and tourism.
Ms Wakley explained that she looked forward to tackling any problems head on and would be working hard to make Ireland an attractive proposition for UK tourists.
“I take up this post at a time of great challenge in the British market and we have some exciting plans under way for 2017, working with our partners in Britain and on the island of Ireland, to inspire British holidaymakers to choose the island of Ireland,” she said.
Her appointment comes as latest figures confirmed a 6.5 per cent drop in British visitors to Ireland in the first quarter of 2017, reflecting the economic situation and the effect of Brexit. The drop in the value of sterling has made trips to Ireland more expensive for British visitors, while economic uncertainty is making them more cautious about their discretionary spending.
“This is impacting on travel to Ireland,” Tourism Ireland said. “[We] will continue to monitor developments around Brexit closely, to better understand and plan for its implications.
“Competitiveness and value for money remain a more important message than ever throughout 2017.”
Niall Gibbons, head of Tourism Ireland, echoed Ms Wakley’s belief that the current climate in Britain was a testing one but added that he has faith she will be able to step up to the challenge.
“I am delighted to welcome Julie Wakley to this key strategic role in our organisation, following an extensive external competition,” he said. “She joins Tourism Ireland at a time when we are facing a number of challenges in Great Britain, not least Brexit and its impact on travel.
“Julie brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience in international marketing and a very strong track record of achievement. She will play a pivotal role in implementing our strategy in the important British market.”