Fáilte Ireland, in collaboration with the Chinese Embassy, Tourism Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland, commemorated 40 years of Ireland-China diplomatic relations recently, as part of a conference titled ‘Developing Tourism Relationships with China’.

Minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran T.D. opened the conference on behalf of the Irish government at The King’s Inns in Dublin. The conference was attended by His Excellency Xiangdong He, Chinese Ambassador to Ireland, and a special delegation from China which included Government officials and travel buyers brought to Ireland by Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture and Tourism, along with Irish tourism industry body representatives and members of the Irish tourism industry.

China is one of the fastest-growing outbound travel markets in the world with numbers predicted to grow to 200m by 2020. This conference provided an opportunity for the Irish tourism industry and State agencies to ensure Ireland capitalises on this growth.

The conference delved into a number of topics, including developing visitor experiences to meet the needs of new markets such as China, and how to build strong relationships with China considering cultural differences.

The Edinburgh Tourism Action Group concluded the conference with a case study of their journey to grow Chinese visitors to Edinburgh over the last four years.

Fáilte Ireland also hosted the Chinese delegation on a number of visits to China-Ready COTRI (China Outbound Tourism Research Institute) Accredited tourism experiences across the country including the Limerick Strand Hotel, the Westport Hotel, the Guinness Storehouse, and Epic the Irish Emigration Museum.

In his address, Minister Moran said: “40 years is a significant milestone and the benefits of our close ties over the past four decades cannot be overstated. The Irish Government’s new five year multi-entry visa option for Chinese tourists coming to Ireland will help to grow the number of Chinese visitors in Ireland. Improvements in connectivity will be key to bringing more Chinese visitors to Ireland. I want to commend the tourism agencies and the Chinese Embassy for organising today’s significant conference.”

His Excellency Xiangdong He, Chinese Ambassador to Ireland said: “Recent years have witnessed a sound development momentum in bilateral relations with friendly exchanges and fruitful pragmatic cooperation in all areas, including tourism industry. Ireland is one of China’s important tourist markets in Europe. The number of Chinese citizens visiting Ireland has increased significantly. China also warmly welcomes Irish friends to go sightseeing in China.”

Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, said: “Through our China Welcome and COTRI China Ready programmes, Fáilte Ireland is working at a pace to support the tourism sector in its capacity to provide a warm welcome to Chinese visitors reflective of cultural needs. We are also building Industry capability to support sustainable business relationships with Chinese outbound tour operators, agents, online channels and airlines, in conjunction with Tourism Ireland. This conference will strengthen tourism development and harness our relationship with China.”

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