Business

NI companies part of biggest ever sales mission to China

Tourism Ireland, together with 24 tourism companies from the island of Ireland, is preparing to blitz four major cities in China next month, as part of its 2018 sales mission to grow tourism from China. Pictured are: Aoife McVeigh, Visit Belfast; Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland; Olga Wang, Embassy of China in Ireland and James Kenny, Tourism Ireland

TOURISM representatives from across Ireland have left on the biggest ever sales mission to China in a bid to further tap into the lucrative market.

A Tourism Ireland delegation of 29 senior representatives from 24 tourism enterprises are taking part in the targeted mission to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. Hastings Hotels, Titanic Belfast, Giant's Causeway, Stena Line and Visit Belfast are among the Northern Ireland companies participating.

The sales mission involves meetings with hundreds of leading Chinese travel agents and tour operators and comes as the first direct flights from Ireland to China start next month. The two new flights to Dublin from Beijing and Hong Kong, representing eight direct flights and 1,700 seats a week, mark an important tourism milestone for the island of Ireland.

As well as highlighting the new flights to Dublin, a key message for Tourism Ireland this week is the British Irish Visa Scheme – which allows Chinese nationals to visit both Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland, using a single visa. Tourism Ireland aims to grow Chinese visitor numbers to 175,000 per year, by 2025, a 150 per cent jump on the figure recorded last year.

CEO of Tourism Ireland, Niall Gibbons said there is a commitment to grow the Chinese tourism market over the coming years.

"In 2017, we welcomed an estimated 70,000 Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland; the introduction of direct flights from Beijing and Hong Kong is a major game-changer and offers a real opportunity for us to build on this number. We are confident that we are in a strong position to grow this emerging travel market in 2018 and over the coming years.”

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