The largest-ever tourism trade mission to China from Ireland took place recently. Eighteen organisations from around the island of Ireland – including hotels, golf operators, visitor attractions and DMCs (destination management companies) – joined Tourism Ireland in Shanghai and Beijing for a series of seminars, B2B workshops, networking events and media interviews in the cities of Beijing and Shanghai. Brown Thomas was also part of the mission, demonstrating the importance of Chinese visitors for our retail sector.
During the three-day mission, face-to-face meetings were conducted with almost 200 Chinese decision-makers – including leading travel agents and tour operators – to encourage them to include the island of Ireland in their 2013 holiday programmes and to recommend it as a destination of choice for their clients. In Shanghai, the partners from Ireland also attended the China International Tourism Mart (CITM) – the largest and most important travel fair in Asia.
Commenting on the longer-term potential of new and developing markets such as China for tourism to the island of Ireland, Susan Li, Tourism Ireland China, said: “The majority of Ireland’s overseas visitors are from the core markets of Great Britain, Mainland Europe and North America, and while this will continue, it is important that we expand our focus beyond these markets and look to the long-term opportunities presented by emerging tourism markets in Asia like China. Trade missions such as this provide an invaluable opportunity for our partners from the island of Ireland to develop their business links and enhance their relationships with key decision-makers, helping to grow their tourism business from China.
“Since the visa waiver scheme was introduced by the Irish Government last year, there has been a noted increase in demand among Chinese tour operators for visas for Ireland. A number of tour operators in China also began programming Ireland for the first time in 2012, on the back of the new arrangements. Tourism Ireland will continue to work hard to put the island of Ireland on the map in emerging markets like China, which offers exciting possibilities for tourism in the medium to long-term.”