Tourism Ireland research shows strong potential for growth from China
Tourism Ireland has welcomed the visit of Mr Liu Yunshan and his delegation from China to Ireland today. Mr Liu is a member of the Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee and First Secretary of the Central Secretariat of the CPC. Mr Liu’s visit will be widely covered by the media in China, providing a unique opportunity to shine a spotlight on Ireland for potential Chinese holidaymakers. Recent research, commissioned by Tourism Ireland, reaffirms the strong growth potential from China – with higher-than-expected recognition for Ireland among Chinese travellers and an association with beautiful landscape and scenery.
Commenting on the tourism potential for Ireland of the delegation’s visit this week, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland said: “The outbound Chinese tourism market is set to grow considerably in the next few years and our research shows that Ireland is well positioned to benefit from this growth. The results of our survey of Chinese travellers are very positive and certainly re-affirm our promotional strategy in China. We will continue to highlight Ireland’s landscape and spectacular scenery, placing particular emphasis on our natural, unspoilt environment, our UNESCO World Heritage Sites and other iconic attractions, which are among our unique selling points in China.
“Mr Liu’s visit is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the island of Ireland to prospective holidaymakers in China and has the potential to deliver a major boost for our tourism industry in 2014 and beyond.”
Millward Brown was commissioned by Tourism Ireland to carry out an online survey of 1,000 Chinese adults living in the cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu, during March and April. The people surveyed had all visited Europe at least once before, and/or intend to travel on a holiday to Europe in the next ten years.
The results of the survey were very positive, with Ireland scoring highly on image and ‘beautiful landscape and scenery’. Only Switzerland – traditionally a very popular destination for Chinese travellers – surpassed Ireland for beautiful landscape, with Ireland ranking equally with France in this area.
The research also shows that sightseeing and visiting internationally-recognised, iconic sites are important for Chinese travellers. In fact, 70% of those surveyed mentioned that UNESCO accredited sites are important in their choice of destination. This presents an opportunity for the island of Ireland, given that we have a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (the Giant’s Causeway, Skellig Michael and Newgrange) and Geo Parks (the Marble Arch Caves and Cuilcagh Mountain Park in Co Fermanagh, the Copper Coast, and the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher, which were visited in 2012 by China’s then vice-president Xi Jinping, who has since become president). Quaint Irish villages and other world-class sites such as Titanic Belfast were also recognised by around two-thirds of the respondents.
Another positive from the survey was that 62% of the Chinese travellers surveyed claimed a reasonable degree of familiarity with Ireland, compared with 46% for Scotland. Over half (56%) of the respondents claimed to have seen communications about Ireland (this could have been on TV, in magazines, online, etc).
Niall Gibbons concluded: “This September, Tourism Ireland, together with a delegation of Irish tourism partners, will undertake a week-long sales mission to China, meeting and doing business with some of the top Chinese travel agents and tour operators. Tourism Ireland recently launched the Chinese version of its international website, Ireland.com, offering prospective Chinese visitors a new, one-stop shop for comprehensive information on all that the island of Ireland has to offer. The importance of Chinese social media is also a key element of our promotional strategy in this market.”
Notes To Editors
Some of the key findings of Tourism Ireland’s survey of Chinese travellers include:
- Chinese travellers want to visit multiple destinations during their trip to Europe, with 62% wishing to include as many countries as possible.
- Ireland scores highly on image among this group; only Switzerland, traditionally a very popular European destination for Chinese visitors, surpasses Ireland for ‘beautiful landscape and scenery’, and we rank equally with France in this area.
- Sightseeing, particularly visiting internationally-recognised, iconic attractions, is an important activity and a key motivator for Chinese travellers (70%). Meeting locals (29%) and outdoor activities (25%) were lesser priorities for the group surveyed.
- Iconic heritage sites have strong potential to attract visitors from China. Visiting internationally-recognised, iconic attractions is an important activity and key motivator for Chinese visitors – 70% mentioned a UNESCO designation as an important factor in their choice of destination. Quaint villages and world-class sites such as the Cliffs of Moher and the Giant’s Causeway were recognised by around two-thirds of respondents and have the greatest appeal among this target audience.
- Of the Chinese travellers surveyed, 62% claimed a reasonable degree of familiarity with Ireland, compared with 46% for Scotland. Over half (56%) of the respondents claimed to have seen some communication for destination Ireland; this could have been on TV, in magazines, online, etc.
- Chinese travellers are information-hungry and value the planning stages of a holiday greatly. The target group surveyed consults an average of nine sources when researching a holiday – four online and five more traditional, offline sources – presenting Tourism Ireland with a choice of platforms through which prospective Chinese visitors can be influenced. Tourism Ireland recently launched the Chinese version of its international website, Ireland.com – which will be increasingly important.
- Peer-influencing online platforms are a favoured information source for these information-hungry, long-haul travellers and can be used to leverage testimonials from previous visitors to increase awareness of our beautiful scenery and heritage sites and address any information gaps.
- To get on the ‘wish-list’ of destinations for Chinese travellers, it is essential to offer a speedy, user-friendly visa process: 81% cited ease and speed of visa process as important. Acceptance of Chinese bank cards (81%) is also a key factor in destination choice, as is the availability of easy internal European travel links (76%).