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23 Jan 2012

Tourism Ireland offers Chinese tourists a céad míle fáilte to ring in the Year of the Dragon

Five groups of Chinese tourists arrive in Ireland this week, to ring in the ‘Year of the Dragon’ Irish-style. They will be travelling around the island of Ireland – from the Cliffs of Moher, to Dublin, to the Giant’s Causeway – to celebrate the Chinese New Year here. It is estimated that approximately 10,000 Chinese visitors come to Ireland each year. However, Tourism Ireland believes that this market has the potential to grow considerably, especially given China’s strong economy and growing population, which includes an estimated 535,000 ‘high net worth’ individuals.

The Chinese tourists visiting this week – about 150 people from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen – have spent a few days in Britain and were able to include Ireland in their itinerary by taking advantage of the visa waiver scheme introduced by the Government last year. The scheme encourages visitors from emerging markets, like China, to visit Ireland when they are visiting the UK, without the hassle or cost of applying for a separate visa. Nine leading Chinese tour operators recently announced they will include Ireland in their 2012 programmes for the first time ever – thanks to the visa waiver scheme as well as improved access from China, including the new Emirates service via Dubai.

Speaking about the visit by the Chinese groups this week, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Spend by Chinese travellers has risen four-fold in the past decade, making them the fourth-biggest spending tourists in the world and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has indicated that travel expenditure by the Chinese was almost US$55 billion in 2010. With 2 million Chinese people visiting Europe each year, this is a significant emerging market and an important one for the island of Ireland to tap into. I’m delighted to see this Chinese group here, as it is evidence that the visa waiver scheme has made it easier than ever before for tourists from China, India and the GCC countries to visit Ireland.”

With the Asia-Pacific region expected to be one of the fastest-growing regions for outbound travel in the next ten years, Tourism Ireland has put a busy promotional programme in place in these emerging markets for 2012. Activity involves co-operative campaigns with airlines and influential tour operators to ensure Ireland features prominently in itineraries and travel brochures; hosting familiarisation visits for Chinese travel agents and tour operators around the island of Ireland; as well as working closely with travel and lifestyle journalists, to ensure the island of Ireland features extensively in the media in China.  

“Natural, scenic beauty is an important consideration for the Chinese when considering a holiday destination; the island of Ireland offers this in abundance. Tourism Ireland is working hard to put Ireland on the map in emerging markets, including China, which offer exciting possibilities for tourism to the island of Ireland,”
added Niall Gibbons.

The five groups will spend five days touring around the island of Ireland, visiting places like the Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle, Kildare Village, Birr Castle, Powerscourt House and Gardens, the Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College, the Old Bushmills Distillery and the Giant’s Causeway. 

Notes To Editors

Notes to editors (some details about China and the outbound travel market)
•    China’s population of 1.3 billion is still growing, at +0.5% per annum.
•    Approximately 38 million Chinese people travel outside of China each year (the majority of these trips are to close-to-home destinations like Hong Kong and Macau).
•    About 2 million Chinese people visit Europe each year, including about 150,000 to the UK (note: VisitBritain says the number of visits to Britain has the potential to reach almost 300,000 per annum by 2020).
•    The Central Statistics Office (CSO) does not provide a breakdown of visitor figures to Ireland from China; they are included as part of Eastern Asia in CSO figures. However, based on visas issued and carrier information, Tourism Ireland estimates that approximately 10,000 Chinese visitors come to Ireland each year.
•    According to China Travel Agent magazine, the first half of 2011 witnessed a record high in outbound travel from China, with trips +20% on the same period in 2010.