Thousands of people – or potential holidaymakers – around China are set to read all about Dublin and Ireland following the recent visit of well-known Chinese author Chen Danyan, known in China as Madame Chen.
Invited here by Tourism Ireland in Beijing, Madame Chen has over 950,000 followers on Sina Weibo (one of the most popular social media sites in China). She was here to research the second edition of her book Swimming Over the Deepest Ocean
, which chronicles her experiences travelling around Ireland. The book has already sold over 15,000 print copies and a further 162,000 e-books; the second edition, which will include new additions about the life of James Joyce, will be published in 2014. With Madame Chen’s visit coinciding with this year’s Bloomsday celebrations, this was a fantastic opportunity for her to experience Ireland’s rich culture and heritage, as well as some of the many things to see and do here for Chinese visitors.
During her time here, Madame Chen was accompanied by Joycean scholar Conor Farnan; she visited numerous famous landmarks associated with James Joyce, including Belvedere College, Eccles Street, the former Ormond Hotel and Sweny’s Chemist. She also visited the James Joyce Tower and Museum in Sandycove, where she interviewed curator Robert Nicholson. Then it was on to the James Joyce House of the Dead at Usher’s Island, where she enjoyed a guided tour and took in a special Bloomsday performance of The Dead.
Susan Li, Tourism Ireland China, said: “Visits such as this are extremely important, helping to deliver extensive coverage for Ireland through the media in China. They are a fantastic way of highlighting the island of Ireland, bringing the destination to the attention of a huge number of potential Chinese holidaymakers. Tourism Ireland is very active right now in markets like China, working to raise the profile of Ireland as a premier holiday and business tourism destination. Press visits like this are an invaluable part of that promotional effort.”
Tourism Ireland’s busy programme of activity to grow tourism from China 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.