Laois Hotel Joins Tourism Ireland’s Sales Mission to China

Twenty Irish tourism companies travelled to China recently – including The Heritage Golf & Spa Resort at Killenard – to meet and do business with more than 450 top travel agents and tour operators, as well as key travel and lifestyle journalists, in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.


The week-long sales blitz involved workshops, presentations and networking events – with the Irish tourism businesses meeting with influential travel agents, to encourage them to include Co Laois and Ireland in their 2014 brochures. They were competing for a share of the 3+ million Chinese visitors to Europe each year.


Representatives of the 20 Irish tourism companies who took part in Tourism Ireland’s China sales mission 2013, including Gráinne O’Malley, The Heritage Golf & Spa Resort at Killenard (seated, right), with Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland (front, centre). They are pictured in Beijing.

Commenting on the sales mission, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Outbound travel from China has grown at an exceptionally high rate over recent years, with the number of international trips growing significantly and forecasts for the next decade suggesting an even greater rise. Although awareness of Ireland in China is still quite low, we believe that this market represents a significant opportunity for Irish tourism. Tourism Ireland is committed to growing visitor numbers from China over the coming years – from approximately 17,000 visitors in 2012 to 50,000 per year, over the coming five years.


“Factors working in our favour  which have helped to increase Ireland’s profile in this vast, hugely diverse market include the huge popularity of Riverdance in China, as well as last year’s visit by the then vice-president Xi Jinping, who has since become president. Our week-long sales mission, where we talk directly to travel agents and influential media, and tell them what makes the island of Ireland such a great holiday destination, is an excellent opportunity to increase our share from this enormous market.”


Tourism Ireland’s activity in China involves establishing and building upon existing relationships with influential intermediaries, such as the travel trade, airlines and media – highlighting our natural attractions, cities, castles and proximity to Britain. The organisation recently launched the Chinese version of and is currently running an online ad campaign to highlight the new site, targeting leisure travellers living in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.


The visa waiver scheme, introduced by the Government in 2011, has played an important role in encouraging visitors from emerging markets, like China, to visit Ireland when they are visiting the UK – without the hassle or cost of applying for a separate visa. Tourism Ireland in China reported an immediate and significant increase in interest in Ireland – with 14 leading Chinese tour operators deciding to include Ireland in their programmes or itineraries for the first time ever as a result of the initiative – delivering an estimated 6,000 additional visitors.

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