Tourism Ireland’s 2016 sales mission to China kicks off today (Monday, 16 May) with the Giant’s Causeway being strongly represented.
A delegation of 15 tourism enterprises – including National Trust Giant’s Causeway, Stena Line and Titanic Belfast – is taking part in the targeted travel trade mission, in a bid to increase our share of this rapidly-growing tourism market.
The Tourism Ireland delegation is also joined this week by the UK and Irish visa offices, to continue to highlight the British-Irish Visa Scheme, which enables leisure and business travellers from China to visit Ireland and the UK on a single visa.
Over the coming week, the Northern Ireland tourism companies will meet and conclude deals with leading Chinese tour operators and travel agents, in the key cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. And, for the first time ever, this year’s sales mission will include Hong Kong, to begin exploring the potential of the market there.
The overall objective is to engage with Chinese tour operators who are currently selling the island of Ireland, or who have strong potential to sell the destination – and to encourage them to extend their offering, or to include the destination for the first time, in their brochures and programmes.
China is an important emerging travel market and one that Tourism Ireland is committed to growing over the coming years. In 2015, we welcomed approximately 45,000 Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland. Tourism Ireland aims to grow Chinese visitor numbers to 50,000 per year, by 2017.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Our sales mission this week is a key element of our promotional programme in China, to win a greater share of the 4 million Chinese visitors who travel to Europe each year. It will give our tourism partners a platform to inform and influence the Chinese travel trade on all that Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland have to offer and, importantly, encourage them to include the destination in their brochures and programmes. Tourism Ireland is committed to growing Chinese visitor numbers to Ireland to 50,000 per year, by 2017, and our sales mission will play a significant role in helping us achieve this target.”
According to the latest data from the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization), China is now the world’s largest outbound travel market – with some 120 million people travelling overseas each year, spending about $165 billion.
Tourism Ireland has offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. The organisation’s activity in China involves establishing and building relationships with influential intermediaries, such as the travel trade, airlines and media – highlighting our natural attractions, cities, castles and proximity to Britain.