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06 May 2019

Tourism Ireland to double investment in China

~ Tourism Ireland’s first step in expansion as part of Global Ireland initiative ~

Tourism Ireland is doubling its marketing investment in China, to €1 million, and will also double its marketing team to 12, over the coming months – to grow Chinese visitor numbers to 200,000 by 2025.
The announcement was made by Tourism Minister Shane Ross ahead of Tourism Ireland’s largest ever sales mission to China, which kicks off today (Monday, 6 May). A record 26 tourism businesses, as well as five island of Ireland tourism industry leaders, will visit Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shanghai and Beijing this week, to meet hundreds of travel agents and tour operators, as well as key airlines and travel journalists.
On the back of last year's increase of +11% in Chinese visitors to Ireland, and following several years of steady growth, Tourism Ireland is ramping up its investment in China to €1 million, as part of the Global Ireland initiative. Under the new strategy, Tourism Ireland will:
  • increase its marketing team on the ground in China to 12; this will include the establishment of a presence in Hong Kong for the first time and the appointment of new digital and PR agencies;
  • ramp up its publicity, digital and social media activity in the market; 61% of Chinese travellers seek opinions online before selecting a holiday destination and half of all destination planning is done on mobile devices; WeChat and Weibo are the most used social media channels in China, with over 800 million active users;
  • continue to work with leading online travel agents and tour operators in the market, who
  • report significant growth in their outbound business overall;
  • undertake a second 2019 sales mission to China this autumn, which will take in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, to capitalise on the direct flights to Dublin;
  • increase its focus on promoting to Chinese consumers in key cities with direct flights to Dublin and in prominent gateway regions;
  • target high end independent travellers; and
  • establish a high-level ‘Ireland Advisory Group’ – comprising Chinese CEOs and senior outbound travel professionals; this group will meet each year in China and in Ireland to help maximise opportunities for tourism to Ireland.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD, said: “I am happy to announce that Tourism Ireland is doubling its marketing budget as part of its growth strategy in China, the world’s fastest-growing outbound travel market. This investment was made possible as a result of the significant additional funding that I allocated to Tourism Ireland in Budget 2019. This will help us deliver on the ambitious targets set for tourism in the Government’s ‘Global Ireland 2025’ initiative. This sets out how we will take Ireland’s global engagement to the next level over the coming years. As part of this, Tourism Ireland, with the support of Fáilte Ireland, will implement its market growth strategies in several new and emerging markets like China.
“Over the last number of years, Tourism Ireland’s strategy has focused on targeting high-spending markets. The sustained increase in revenue from such markets has played a large part in our success in recent years and there is great potential for China to become another success story. Our tourism industry must be ready to react to the changing market profile of visitors to Ireland and in this respect, Fáilte Ireland has developed a ‘China Ready’ Programme which aims to educate the industry about the opportunities available from that market. I wish Tourism Ireland every success in their sales mission to China this week.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Our review of emerging tourism markets confirmed China as a market of considerable opportunity for us. China is the largest outbound travel market in the world and one that Tourism Ireland is committed to growing over the coming years. Last year, we welcomed an estimated 100,000 Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland; the introduction of direct flights to Dublin has been a major game-changer and offers a real opportunity for us. Our aim now is to capitalise on the changing travel patterns in China to grow Chinese visitor numbers to 200,000 by 2025 and, in particular, to grow the number of high end individual Chinese travellers to the island of Ireland.”
In 2018, we welcomed an estimated 100,000 Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland, up +11% on 2017.
Tourism Minister Shane Ross; and Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, announce Tourism Ireland’s increased marketing investment in China.

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 around 325,000 people across the island.
  • In 2018, we welcomed around 11.2 million overseas visitors to the island of Ireland (+6% on 2017), delivering revenue of approximately €6.1 billion (+10%).
  • Tourism Ireland’s international website is, 29 market sites available in 11 language versions around the world, which attracted 20+ million visitors in 2018.