President Michael D Higgins addressed leading Chinese travel trade, media and airline representatives in Shanghai today, at an event organised by Tourism Ireland as part of this week’s State Visit to China. He spoke of the historic and cultural links between Ireland and China and their importance in underpinning future tourism potential.
At the event, Chinese academic Professor Pu Durong presented President Higgins with his translation into Chinese of the President’s poetry.
The event was an ideal opportunity for Tourism Ireland to highlight the new British-Irish Visa Scheme to the influential Chinese guests in attendance. The new scheme, which comes into effect in time for bookings for the 2015 summer season, will enable visitors from China to travel freely between Ireland and the United Kingdom using the same travel documents i.e. using either an Irish or UK visa. This is a significant step, as it will mean Chinese visitors will be able – for the first time – to visit both Ireland and the UK on a single visa of either country. These changes will make it easier and more attractive than ever before for Chinese and Indian visitors to come to Ireland and the UK and to travel without restrictions throughout the island of Ireland.
Tourism Ireland also presented its top performing Chinese tour operators and travel agents with ‘Ireland Specialist’ awards during the event in Shanghai – over 900 Chinese travel professionals who programme and sell Ireland have been accredited so far this year. During this week’s State Visit of President Higgins, Tourism Ireland is also posting news and positive stories about Ireland to its 82,000 followers on Sina Weibo, one of China’s most popular social media sites.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “The new British-Irish Visa Scheme is really good news and a significant step in helping us to grow visitor numbers from China in 2015 and beyond – whether those visitors wish to travel to Ireland for sightseeing, to play golf or as business tourists. Tourism Ireland believes that the Chinese travel market has the potential to grow considerably, especially given China’s strong economy and growing population. Our aim is to welcome 50,000 Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland over the coming four years.”
China is one of the world’s fastest growing outbound travel markets – with over 100 million Chinese travelling overseas in 2013, up from 10 million in 2000 – and is estimated to reach 200 million by 2020, according to the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organisation). Tourism Ireland will be working hard to promote the new British-Irish Visa Scheme in China, through its offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu, by working with the travel trade and airlines, through online marketing and by generating positive publicity for the island of Ireland through local media. So far this year, Tourism Ireland has generated publicity worth an estimated €7 million (in equivalent advertising value) in China. During Tourism Ireland’s China sales mission in September 2014, 17 Irish tourism partners met 213 travel companies and 377 travel professionals. Another Tourism Ireland China sales mission is planned for June 2015.
Tourism Ireland is planning a busy programme of promotions in China for 2015, highlighting the island of Ireland’s rich culture, natural attractions, cities and castles. Tourism Ireland launched the Chinese version of Ireland.com last year, to target leisure travellers living in major cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.
President Higgins with Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, in Shanghai during the State Visit to China.
President Higgins meets leading Chinese travel professionals at Tourism Ireland event in Shanghai
Notes To Editors
- Tourism Ireland is the organisation responsible for promoting the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination.
- Tourism is the island of Ireland’s largest indigenous industry; responsible for in excess of 4% of GNP in the Republic of Ireland and employing approximately 200,000 people.
- In 2013, we welcomed an estimated 8 million overseas visitors to the island of Ireland, delivering revenue of almost €4 billion. Overseas tourism business accounts for 59% of all tourism revenue.
- Tourism Ireland’s international website is www.ireland.com, available in ten different language versions for over 30 individual markets around the world.