A record 26 Irish tourism companies – including 13 first-timers – will travel to China in May, to take part in Tourism Ireland’s 2019 sales mission.

The companies were briefed by Tourism Ireland ahead of the sales mission, which will take in four major Chinese cities (Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shanghai and Beijing). At each city, Chinese travel agents and tour operators will be invited to take part in a programme of workshops and networking events. The tour runs from 6th – 10th May.

The objective of the sales mission is to engage with Chinese travel professionals who are currently selling the island of Ireland, or who have strong potential to sell the destination, and to encourage them to extend their Ireland offering, or to include Ireland for the first time, in their brochures and programmes.

During the tour, ease of access from China to Ireland will be highlighted, in particular three direct flights to Dublin – from Beijing and Shenzhen with Hainan Airlines, and from Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific. The organisation is also highlighting the British-Irish Visa Scheme, which enables Chinese travellers to visit both Ireland and the UK on a single visa of either country.

Travel agents continue to play an important role in China, with travellers preferring to use a travel agent for a number of reasons, including convenience, language barriers, visa preparation and knowledge gaps.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Our annual sales mission is a key element of our promotional programme in China, providing our tourism partners from Ireland with a platform to inform and influence the Chinese travel trade on all that the island of Ireland has to offer and, importantly, encouraging them to include Ireland in their brochures and programmes.

“In 2018, we welcomed an estimated 100,000 Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland; the introduction of direct flights to Dublin is a major game-changer and offers a real opportunity for us to grow this emerging travel market over the coming years.”

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