Tourism chiefs target China's big spenders
THE Chinese are about to invade our shores.
However, be prepared to welcome our visitors with open arms as Tourism Ireland predicts they are about to give a much-needed boost to the country's economy.
The Chinese celebrity couple who chose Ireland for their honeymoon last year have become trend setters and the country's tourism body is predicting that Chinese tourists will treble over the next five years.
The tourist body has just appointed new representation in China and with Travel Link Marketing (TLM) plans to increase the number of Chinese visitors from the current 17,000 a year to more than 50,000 a year within five years.
Shanghai detective writer Zhao Yan and his bride Zhao Ruo Hong, who is the marketing and sales vice-president of China's first wedding website The Knot, chose Ireland for their honeymoon last year.
They arrived in the country with a string of photographers to record their visit, promoting Ireland as a quality holiday destination.
This week a China seminar was organised by Tourism Ireland for hoteliers, golf marketing groups and destination management companies to hear about the Chinese travel market, with practical advice on how to promote their products.
The tourist body has identified Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou and Chengdu as their priority for the coming year
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, commented: "China is an important emerging market and one that Tourism Ireland is committed to growing over the coming years."
While visitor numbers from China are small compared to established markets, "it is important to remember that visitors from China spend more than the average visitor and typically stay longer than visitors from closer-to-home markets," he added.
Chinese holidaymakers made 83m international trips last year – up from 10m in 2000, making China the third most lucrative outbound travel market in the world.
Chinese people now spend about €54bn a year on travel, up 400pc in the past 10 years.
Meanwhile Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, has announced that Ireland has secured full market access to China for salmon exports.
He made the announcement during a four-day political and trade mission to Beijing and Shanghai.