Tourism Ireland grows its presence to woo Chinese

Ireland could take a leaf out of Hong Kong’s book when it comes to reaping the benefits of the mainland tourism market.

With this in mind, Tourism Ireland has appointed new representation in China, Travel Link Marketing, with offices in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, and the two will collaborate to increase Chinese tourist numbers from 17,000 in 2012 to 50,000 per year in the next five years.

Outbound travel from China has grown rapidly in recent years, with international trips growing from 10 million in 2000 to 83 million in 2012, and forecasts for the next decade suggest an even greater rise. China is now the third most lucrative outbound travel market in the world.

Tourism Ireland is the latest Irish state body to expand its presence in China. Last month, the IDA opened a new office in Beijing, focusing on attracting investment and jobs in the financial services sector.

Tourism Ireland organised a China seminar for the growing number of Irish companies interested in growing business from that market, and the seminar was attended by hoteliers, representatives from visitor attractions, golf marketing groups and destination management companies. They were given updates on the Chinese travel market and information about how the travel distribution system works in China.

"Due to rapid urbanisation, rising disposable incomes and the relaxation of restrictions on foreign travel, the number of Chinese people travelling overseas has grown by an average of 22 per cent per year since 2000, and forecasts for the next decade suggest an even greater rise," said Niall Gibbons, Tourism Ireland's CEO.

“While visitor numbers from China are small . . . visitors from China spend more than the average visitor and typically stay longer than visitors from closer-to-home markets.”

The target geographical areas for Tourism Ireland in China for 2014 will be: Shanghai in eastern China, Beijing and Tianjin in the north China, Guangzhou in south China and Chengdu in west China.