Saturday 19 January 2019

Tourism chiefs bid for more Chinese visitors as new route takes off

Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Chinese tourists spent more nights in the Czech Republic than in Ireland in 2016.

While there were only around 70,000 Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland in 2017 - an increase of around 10,000 on 2016, Tourism Ireland will be hoping that the numbers increase with the launch of direct flights between Hong Kong and Dublin this summer.

The flights, which are being provided by Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific, are the first ever direct flights from the Asia-Pacific region to Ireland.

This week Tourism Ireland and the Dublin Airport Authority met senior employees at the airline, including chairman John Slosar and chief executive Rupert Hogg, ahead of the route launch.

In order to drive demand from consumers for the route, Tourism Ireland and Cathay Pacific will undertake a number of co-operative promotions in the coming months.

While in Hong Kong, senior officials from Tourism Ireland also undertook a series of engagements with key travel decision-makers, including the Hong Kong Association of Travel Agents, the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, Jet Tours and Flight Centre, in a bid to increase the number of tourists to Ireland from the Asia-Pacific region.

"The new Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Dublin is really good news for Irish tourism," said Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons.

"It will help to further open up important tourism and business opportunities for Ireland in Hong Kong and China, as well as in Australia and New Zealand and across the Asia Pacific region."

In a further bid to entice tourist from the Asia-Pacific region to Ireland, in May of this year Tourism Ireland will undertake its 2018 sales mission to China - with Irish tourism firms targeting top travel agents and tour operators, as well as key travel and lifestyle journalists. The sales mission will include Hong Kong as well as key cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.

A key message from Tourism Ireland, which was established as one of six areas of co-operation under the framework of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, is the British-Irish Visa Scheme.

Launched in 2014, the joint visa programme enables visitors from China and India to travel freely between Ireland and the UK using the same travel documents - either an Irish or a UK visa. The scheme makes it easier and more attractive for Chinese and Indian visitors to come to Ireland and the UK, and to travel without restrictions throughout the island of Ireland.

"Given that visitors from China are travelling a considerable distance, and often want to include more than one destination on their itinerary, it makes sense to make it as easy as possible for them to visit both Ireland and the UK on a single visa," Tourism Ireland said.

Overall, the number of nights spent in the EU by tourists from China has more than tripled over the last 10 years to reach nearly 25m nights in 2016. The UK, Italy, France, and Germany were among the more popular destinations for them in Europe, according to research from Eurostat.

In total there were approximately 10.65 million overseas visitors to Ireland last year, generating €5.78bn in revenue for the economy.

China on the up: p36

Irish Independent

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