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07 May 2018

Tourism Ireland leads biggest ever sales mission to China

Direct flights from Beijing and Hong Kong will be ‘game changer’ for Irish tourism

Tourism Ireland’s biggest ever sales mission to China kicks off today (Monday, 7 May). A delegation of 29 senior representatives from 24 tourism enterprises from around the island of Ireland is taking part in the targeted mission to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong – to grow our share of this rapidly-growing tourism market.

Next month sees the commencement of two new flights to Dublin from Beijing and Hong Kong – eight direct flights, representing around 1,700 airline seats each week, for the first time ever from the Asia Pacific Region to Ireland. This week’s sales mission will involve meetings with representatives of both Hainan Airlines in Beijing and Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong, to discuss how to drive demand for and maximise the promotion of both services.

Tourism Ireland aims to grow Chinese visitor numbers to 175,000 per year, by 2025 (+150% on 2017).

The mission will also involve meetings with hundreds of leading Chinese travel agents and tour operators. As well as highlighting the new flights to Dublin, a key message for Tourism Ireland this week is the British Irish Visa Scheme – which allows Chinese nationals to visit both Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland, using a single visa.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “China is the largest outbound travel market in the world and one that Tourism Ireland is committed to growing over the coming years. In 2017, we welcomed an estimated 70,000 Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland; the introduction of direct flights from Beijing and Hong Kong is a major game-changer and offers a real opportunity for us to build on this number. We are confident that we are in a strong position to grow this emerging travel market in 2018 and over the coming years.”

Tourism Ireland has a strong network in China, with offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. The organisation’s activity in China involves establishing and building relationships with influential intermediaries, including the travel trade, airlines and media – highlighting our natural attractions, cities, castles and proximity to Britain.

In conjunction with Fáilte Ireland and Tourism NI, Tourism Ireland has developed and successfully piloted a new ‘China Ready’ training programme – with more than 20 tourism operators around the island of Ireland participating to date, to learn about the specific requirements and needs of Chinese visitors.
  The delegation of tourism enterprises from the island of Ireland taking part in the 2018 sales mission to China, pictured in Beijing, with Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland (eighteenth left); HE Eoin O'Leary, Irish Ambassador to China (sixteenth right); James Kenny (left), David Boyce (ninth right) and Siobhan McManamy (third right), all Tourism Ireland.

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 281,000 people across the island.
  • In 2017, we welcomed approximately 10.65 million overseas visitors to the island of Ireland, delivering revenue of about €5.78 billion.
  • Tourism Ireland’s international website is, 29 market sites available in 11 language versions around the world, which attracted around 19.3 million visitors in 2017.

Previous Press Release

03 May 2018

Tourism Ireland board meets in Londonderry