Tourism looks to China
Eighteen Irish organisations, including hotels, golf operators, visitor attractions and DMCs (destination management companies) linked up with Tourism Ireland in Shanghai last week to form the largest tourism trade mission to China to date.
The group took part in a series of seminars, B2B workshops, networking events and media interviews in both Beijing and Shanghai. Department store Brown Thomas was also part of the mission, a sign of how Chinese visitors are becoming increasingly important to the retail sector.
During the three-day mission, the delegation held face-to-face meetings with almost 200 Chinese decision-makers, including some of the country’s leading travel agents and tour operators, to encourage them to include Ireland in their 2013 holiday programmes.
In Shanghai, the delegation attended the China International Tourism Mart, the most important travel fair in Asia.
The visa waiver scheme, which was extended by the Taoiseach during his visit, has led to an increase in demand among Chinese tour operators for visas for Ireland, according to Susan Li, Tourism Ireland’s China representative.
A number of tour operators in China also began programming Ireland for the first time in 2012, on the back of the new arrangements, she said.
“The majority of Ireland’s overseas visitors are from the core markets . . . while this will continue, it is important that we expand our focus beyond these markets and look to the long-term opportunities presented by emerging tourism markets in Asia like China.”
The mission included representatives from hotels such as Glasson Country House, Carton House, the Ritz-Carlton at Powerscourt, the Griffin Hotel Group, the Shelbourne Hotel and the River Lee Hotel.
Also there were Aspects of Ireland, Guinness Storehouse, Titanic Belfast, Stena Ireland and Tax Free Worldwide.
Tour operators which were present were Moloney Kelly Travel, Custom Ireland and Club Travel.