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    Irish tourism agencies celebrate 40th Anniversary of Ireland-China Diplomatic Relations

    Irish tourism agencies celebrate 40th Anniversary  of Ireland-China Diplomatic Relations

    Major ‘Developing Tourism Relationships with China’ conference takes place in Dublin

    In 1979, diplomatic relations between Ireland and China were formally established. The 40th anniversary of this significant relationship was marked today by Fáilte Ireland in collaboration with the Chinese Embassy, Tourism Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland at a major conference entitled ‘Developing Tourism Relationships with China’.

    Minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran T.D. opened the conference on behalf of the Irish government at The King’s Inns in Dublin. The conference was attended by His Excellency Xiangdong He, Chinese Ambassador to Ireland, and a special delegation from China which included Government officials and travel buyers brought to Ireland by Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture and Tourism, along with Irish tourism industry body representatives and members of the Irish tourism industry.

    In his address, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran T.D., Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, said:

    “40 years is a significant milestone and the benefits of our close ties over the past four decades cannot be overstated. The Irish Government’s new 5-year multi-entry visa option for Chinese tourists coming to Ireland will help to grow the number of Chinese visitors in Ireland.  Improvements in connectivity will be key to bringing more Chinese visitors to Ireland.  I want to commend the tourism agencies and the Chinese Embassy for organising today’s significant conference.”

    His Excellency Xiangdong He, Chinese Ambassador to Ireland said:
    “Recent years have witnessed a sound development momentum in bilateral relations with friendly exchanges and fruitful pragmatic cooperation in all areas, including tourism industry.  Ireland is one of China's important tourist markets in Europe. The number of Chinese citizens visiting Ireland has increased significantly.  China also warmly welcomes Irish friends to go sightseeing in China.”

    China is one of the fastest-growing outbound travel markets in the world with numbers predicted to grow to 200 million by 2020. This conference provides an excellent opportunity for the Irish tourism industry and State agencies to ensure Ireland capitalises on this growth. 

    Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, said:
    “Through our China Welcome and COTRI China Ready programmes, Fáilte Ireland is working at a pace to support the tourism sector in its capacity to provide a warm welcome to Chinese visitors reflective of cultural needs. We are also building Industry capability to support sustainable business relationships with Chinese outbound tour operators, agents, online channels and airlines, in conjunction with Tourism Ireland. This conference will strengthen tourism development and harness our relationship with China.”

    Siobhan McManamy, Head of Markets at 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 2018, we welcomed an estimated 100,000 Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland. Tourism Ireland plans to double its marketing investment in China, to €1 million, and also double its marketing team to 12, to grow Chinese visitor numbers to 200,000 by 2025. We have a busy programme of digital marketing, travel agent and tour operator liaison, publicity and social media activity rolling out in China throughout 2019. We were delighted when Ireland won a ‘most promising overseas destination’ award in China earlier this year for our social media activity aimed at Chinese travellers. We are confident that we are in a strong position to generate further growth in the years ahead.”

    John McGrillen, CEO of Tourism Northern Ireland, said:
    “We are delighted to be part of the journey to develop more tourism business from China alongside our partners in Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland. There has never been a more critical time for our industry to seize the opportunity afforded by the China market. Tourism NI is confident that Northern Ireland has the right tourism product and experiences to resonate with this market and we look forward to further developing our strategy over the coming months”.

    Today’s conference delved into a number of topics including:
    • developing the visitor experience to meet the needs and expectations of new markets such as China
    • understanding how festivals and events can motivate visitors to travel and support business in the shoulder and off season
    • building strong and sustainable business relationships with China considering cultural differences in doing business, language barriers and servicing the cultural needs of Chinese travellers

    The Edinburgh Tourism Action Group concluded the conference with an excellent case study of their journey to grow Chinese visitors to Edinburgh over the last four years.

    Over the last few days, Fáilte Ireland also hosted the Chinese delegation on a number of visits to China-Ready COTRI Accredited3 tourism experiences across the country including the Limerick Strand Hotel, the Westport Hotel, Killaloe River Cruises, Westport House, cycling on the Mayo Greenway, falconry at Ashford Castle, shopping at Kildare Village, Birr Castle and Gardens, Causey and Glenkeen Farms, Powerscourt House and Gardens, the Guinness Storehouse, and EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum. Bespoke itineraries for these visits were designed by Fáilte Ireland to give members of the delegation first-hand experience of what there is to see and do while in Ireland and the warm welcome offered by businesses who have completed Fáilte Ireland’s China-Ready COTRI training.

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