Irish tourism industry on major drive to attract Chinese visitors
600 Irish hospitality businesses to complete China Ready Training Programme this year
With a potential market of millions, Ireland’s tourism industry is on a major drive to target Chinese visitors.
More than 600 Irish hospitality businesses will have completed a China Ready Training Programme by the end of the year in preparation for increased numbers of Chinese visitors.
“The Fáilte Ireland China Ready training programme trains businesses both in how to welcome Chinese visitors and meet the cultural needs of Chinese visitors, but also how to do business in the Chinese market and how to connect in with the sales channels and routes to market,” he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.
Mr Kelly said that there has been a significant growth in business from China since a Tourism Ireland-organised sales mission to China. During the mission, 26 Irish businesses visited a number of cities in China and met local travel buyers.
When asked what Chinese tourists like about Ireland, he said they are interested in a number of things.
“They’re really interested in our culture and heritage and they’re also really interested in our outdoor spaces and getting close to nature,” he said. “So things like farm visits, and things that would seem quite simple to us, getting out on farms, interacting with farmers and seeing things like sheep dog trials and stuff like that is really interesting to Chinese visitors and something that they’re very keen on.
“They’re not too dissimilar from other visitors, they really enjoy our landscape as well as our culture and history. An awful lot of Chinese visitors are residents in large cities so, in terms of that offering that we have, our rural landscape is a really motivating one for them.”
The China Ready training programme offers advice on a variety of changes that can be made by hospitality providers to make Chinese visitors welcome, he said.
“There’s lots of small things that can be done, that will work for Chinese visitors, things like using the colour red, avoiding the colour white, watching out for the number four, there’s lots of small things that can make a big difference to make Chinese visitors feel welcome.
“There’s also the culinary offering - it’s really important having the right kind of food - whereas Chinese visitors like to sample the food that we have here, their digestive systems are not used to the kind of food we have here and to eat that food solidly for eight days on a trip here would be challenging, So they need to have the variety of food.
“Having the right kind of breakfast offering that works for Chinese visitors. It’s a range of things like that that are needed to meet the needs.”
Direct flight services have also helped to expand the market, he added. “We’d like to see that grow over time, we’ve also got a new five year multi-entry visa that’s just come on stream.”