Tourism chiefs in bid to lure Chinese
A major initiative has been launched to crack the lucrative Chinese tourism market in a bid to triple the number of Chinese visitors to our shores.
Tourism Ireland confirmed to the Irish Independent that it is injecting €200,000 into its promotional campaign in China, targeting four specific regions.
Junior Tourism Minister Michael Ring said the Chinese market could be potentially lucrative but that "it is going to take time" to build up.
It is understood that Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar will lead a delegation to China next week, and that a separate tourism delegation will also spend 10 days there promoting Ireland in the coming days.
"It's a new market. A lot of people in China have heard of Ireland, and a lot of them would like to visit Ireland. We are building on that market, it is an important market for now," said Mr Ring.
Last month, Ireland was announced as the "best potential destination" at a major awards ceremony in the country.
Tourism Ireland confirmed it is hoping to develop this market over the next five years, and will aim to triple the visitor numbers from 17,000 in 2012 to 50,000 per year.
"Outbound travel from China has grown at an exceptionally high rate over recent years, with the number of international trips growing significantly and forecasts for the next decade are suggesting an even greater rise," Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said.
"Although awareness of Ireland in China is still quite low, we believe that this market represents a significant opportunity for Irish tourism.
"Tourism Ireland has an extensive programme of activity under way, to grow visitor numbers from China in 2014 and over the coming years." The four Irish tourism offices in China are situated in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu.
Their target geographical areas for visitors are Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin and Guangzhou.
They are hoping to "establish relationships" with "influential intermediaries" including travel agents, airlines and the media.
According to figures from Tourism Ireland, there were 83 million outbound Chinese travellers in 2012.
It is described as being the "third most lucrative outbound travel market in the world".