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01 Aug 2013

Targeting Chinese tourists for the island of Ireland

Tourism Ireland appoints new representation in China

Tourism Ireland has appointed new representation in China. With offices in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, the newly-appointed Travel Link Marketing (TLM) will work with Tourism Ireland to grow the number of Chinese tourists to the island of Ireland from approximately 17,000 (in 2012) to 50,000 per year, over the coming five years.

A China seminar was organised by Tourism Ireland this week, for the increasing number of Irish enterprises interested in growing business from that market. Attendees – who included hoteliers, visitor attractions, golf marketing groups and destination management companies – heard the latest update on the Chinese travel market, information about how the travel distribution system works in China, as well as lots of practical advice and tips about how to promote effectively and ultimately to grow business from this market.

The target geographies for Tourism Ireland in China for 2014 will be: Shanghai in East China, Beijing and Tianjin in North China, Guangzhou in South China and Chengdu in West China. Priorities for next year will include the development of a suite of brand new, tailor-made itineraries to appeal to a wider audience and new segments in China. These will be communicated to potential holidaymakers through Chinese travel agents and tour operators, the influential travel media and through digital promotions, including social media (the dominant social media sites of Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo will be used to spread the good news about Ireland in China).

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “China is an important emerging market and one that Tourism Ireland is committed to growing over the coming years. Due to rapid urbanisation, rising disposable incomes and the relaxation of restrictions on foreign travel, the number of Chinese people travelling overseas has grown by an average of +22% per year since 2000; and forecasts for the next decade suggest an even greater rise. While visitor numbers from China are small, when compared to our established tourism markets, it is important to remember that visitors from China spend more than the average visitor and typically stay longer than visitors from closer-to-home markets.

“I am delighted that so many of our tourism industry partners from right around the island of Ireland signed up to attend our China seminar; it is really encouraging to have such commitment and interest in the market. We see the relationship between our industry partners here and the Chinese travel trade as being absolutely critical in helping us to realise the potential of the market. The seminar provides our partners with a greater understanding of the Chinese market just when they are planning for the rest of 2013 and for 2014.”

Outbound travel from China has grown at an exceptionally high rate over recent years, with the number of international trips growing from 10 million in 2000 to 83 million in 2012; and forecasts for the next decade suggest an even greater rise. China is now the third most lucrative outbound travel market in the world, with Chinese people spending US$72.6 billion per year on travel (according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation), a growth of +400% over the past decade. The UNWTO forecasts that 100 million outbound trips will be made by 2015. Whilst the majority of Chinese people travel within Asia, there has been significant growth in long-haul travel over the past five years, most notably to destinations like France, Germany and the United States.