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Thursday 1 June 2023 Dublin: 15°C
# Snap Snap
Why a crew of German instagrammers were lured on this tour of Ireland
They took lots of pretty photos while they were here.

LAST WEEK IMAGES from Ireland’s historic cities, craggy coastline and green hills were beamed to over a million people around the world.

But it wasn’t the product of a big-budget TV campaign, rather the work of 10 German Instagram users – with a combined following of 1.3 million - who were brought to the island in a hope of inspiring hordes of paying tourists to follow in their footsteps.

It’s part of a growing trend of destinations competing with their rivals for the tourism dollar by recruiting social media “influencers” to lure their fans to a destination.

Tourism Ireland, the all-island body in charge of selling the destination overseas, teamed up with Samsung to cover the costs of the promotion, the latest in a string of social media campaigns it has used to plug the country.

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Berlin-based street photographer Thomas Kakareko, who has over 600,000 Instagram followers, was among the group given a three-day tour of Ireland – which he described as “the best time ever”.

He and four others were given an “urban experience” in Belfast and Dublin, while the other five German visitors got a dose of the Wild Atlantic Way in Cork and Kerry.

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Kakareko told his agency, Visumate, worked with brands and tourism bodies around the world on similar campaigns, hand-picking Instagram users like those who joined him for the latest trip.

“We have a network of around 1,000 people who are all Instagram influencers and they have hundreds of thousands of followers,” he said.

When we ask them to go to a certain destination we know that lots of people see it and want to come – they say ‘wow this is Ireland, maybe I want to book my next holiday there’.”

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The Iceland effect

Internationally, tourism bodies for cities, regions and countries have been ramping up their competition to attract the most influential internet users.

Kakareko, who singled out Belfast as a particular highlight of his recent visit, said Iceland was a prime example of a tourist destination which had exploded in popularity over the past five years. The number of foreign visitors to the country more than doubled between 2010 and 2014.

“Before Instagram I think only few people knew about Iceland, but today it’s the biggest cliche that everyone wants to go there to take Instagram shots,” he said.

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Emma Gorman, who handles Tourism Ireland’s digital PR, said some of the top bloggers and Instagram users had more people viewing their material – and more loyal followers – than most mainstream media outlets could ever hope for.

“One of the big things Ireland has to offer is the landscape and the best way to depict that is using the visual,” she said.

Instagram posts are also not language-specific, which also helps with one of the big challenges when you’re marketing yourself globally.”

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The costs of flights and accommodation, which Gorman said were typically under €10,000 for similar campaigns, were split with Fáilte Ireland for the latest Instagram tour.

But she said the spend provided “very good value for money” for the number of people it reached compared to buying ads in newspapers and magazines, or on television.

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Tourism Ireland also recently commissioned Californian video bloggers the Vagabrothers to make a series of YouTube videos about their travels.

The organisation was previously declared the leader in Europe for using Facebook and YouTube to promote the country as a tourist destination.

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