New Tourism Ireland Research Shows Strong Potential for Growth from China

28 Apr 2014

New research unveiled today during a promotional visit of China by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar and Tourism Ireland officials shows that Ireland scores highly for beautiful landscape and scenery among Chinese travellers.

Millward Brown was commissioned by Tourism Ireland to carry out an online survey of 1,000 Chinese adults living in the cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu, during March and April. The people surveyed had all visited Europe at least once before, and/or intend to travel on a holiday to Europe in the next ten years.

The results of the survey were very positive, with Ireland scoring highly on image and ‘beautiful landscape and scenery’. Only Switzerland – traditionally a very popular destination for Chinese travellers – surpassed Ireland for beautiful landscape, with Ireland ranking equally with France in this area.

The research also shows that sightseeing and visiting internationally-recognised, iconic sites are important for Chinese travellers. In fact, 70% of those surveyed mentioned that UNESCO accredited sites are important in their choice of destination. This presents an opportunity for the island of Ireland, given that we have three UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Giant’s Causeway, Skellig Michael and Newgrange. Quaint Irish villages and other world-class sites such as Titanic Belfast and the Cliffs of Moher (visited in 2012 by China’s then vice-president Xi Jinping, who has since become president) were recognised by around two-thirds of the respondents.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar said: “The outbound Chinese tourism market will grow considerably in the next few years and today’s research shows that Ireland is well positioned to benefit from this growth. It reflects the very positive feedback we are getting during this promotional trip to China. While the number of Chinese visitors to Ireland is relatively small compared to our more established markets, we have seen good growth rates in recent years. Measures like the Visa Waiver Scheme have certainly helped, and last year 24 top Chinese tour operators marketed Ireland on the back of the new visa arrangements.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “The results of our survey of Chinese travellers are very positive and certainly re-affirm our promotional strategy in China. We will continue to highlight Ireland’s landscape and spectacular scenery, placing particular emphasis on our natural, unspoilt environment and our UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which are some of our unique selling points in China.

“More than 60% of the people surveyed want to include multiple destinations during their trip to Europe – so our new partnership agreement with VisitBritain is particularly timely. Under the agreement, Tourism Ireland and VisitBritain will work more closely together – particularly in long-haul markets outside of Europe and North America – to promote the island of Ireland and Great Britain as destinations to be visited as part of a single holiday.

“This September, Tourism Ireland, together with a delegation of Irish tourism partners, will undertake a week-long sales mission to China, meeting and doing business with some of the top Chinese travel agents and tour operators. Tourism Ireland recently launched the Chinese version of its international website, Ireland.com, offering prospective Chinese visitors a new, one-stop shop for comprehensive information on all that the island of Ireland has to offer. The importance of Chinese social media is also a key element of our promotional strategy in this market.”

Another positive from the survey was that 62% of the Chinese travellers surveyed claimed a reasonable degree of familiarity with Ireland, compared with 46% for Scotland. Over half (56%) of the respondents claimed to have seen communications about Ireland (this could have been on TV, in magazines, online, etc).

More than 60% of the respondents want to take in multiple destinations during their trip to Europe, making Tourism Ireland’s recent partnership agreement with VisitBritain particularly timely. Under the agreement, Tourism Ireland and VisitBritain will work more closely together – particularly in long-haul markets like China – to promote the island of Ireland and Great Britain as destinations to be visited as part of a single holiday. 

-ENDS-

Further media information:
Sinéad Grace, Tourism Ireland         
Tel: 087-685 9027

Notes to Editors:

Some of the key findings of Tourism Ireland’s survey of Chinese travellers include:

  • Chinese travellers want to visit multiple destinations during their trip to Europe, with 62% wishing to include as many countries as possible. 
  • Ireland scores highly on image among this group; only Switzerland, traditionally a very popular European destination for Chinese visitors, surpasses Ireland for ‘beautiful landscape and scenery’, and we rank equally with France in this area.
  • Sightseeing, particularly visiting internationally-recognised, iconic attractions, is an important activity and a key motivator for Chinese travellers (70%). Meeting locals (29%) and outdoor activities (25%) were lesser priorities for the group surveyed.
  • Iconic heritage sites have strong potential to attract visitors from China. Visiting internationally-recognised, iconic attractions is an important activity and key motivator for Chinese visitors – 70% mentioned a UNESCO designation as an important factor in their choice of destination. Quaint villages and world-class sites such as the Cliffs of Moher and the Giant’s Causeway were recognised by around two-thirds of respondents and have the greatest appeal among this target audience.
  • Of the Chinese travellers surveyed, 62% claimed a reasonable degree of familiarity with Ireland, compared with 46% for Scotland. Over half (56%) of the respondents claimed to have seen some communication for destination Ireland; this could have been on TV, in magazines, online, etc.
  • Chinese travellers are information-hungry and value the planning stages of a holiday greatly. The target group surveyed consults an average of nine sources when researching a holiday – four online and five more traditional, offline sources – presenting Tourism Ireland with a choice of platforms through which prospective Chinese visitors can be influenced. Tourism Ireland recently launched the Chinese version of its international website, Ireland.com – which will be increasingly important.
  • Peer-influencing online platforms are a favoured information source for these information-hungry, long-haul travellers and can be used to leverage testimonials from previous visitors to increase awareness of our beautiful scenery and heritage sites and address any information gaps.
  • To get on the ‘wish-list’ of destinations for Chinese travellers, it is essential to offer a speedy, user-friendly visa process: 81% cited ease and speed of visa process as important. Acceptance of Chinese bank cards (81%) is also a key factor in destination choice, as is the availability of easy internal European travel links (76%). 

 

 

 

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