Tourism Ireland research points to growth potential in visitors from China

With its new Chinese investors heavily working towards promoting Ireland as a destination to Chinese tourists, research out today can only be great news for the Fota Island Resort, Cork’s finest 5 Star hotel.

Millward Brown, the global research agency, was commissioned by Tourism Ireland to carry out an online survey of 1,000 Chinese adults living in the cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou & Chengdu. during March and April of this year. The survey participants had all visited Europe at least once before, and/or intend to travel on a holiday to Europe in the next ten years.

The research unveiled today during a promotional visit of China by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar and Tourism Ireland officials shows that Ireland scores highly for beautiful landscape and scenery among Chinese travellers.

The results of the survey were extremely positive, with Ireland scoring highly on image & ‘beautiful landscape and scenery’. Only Switzerland – traditionally a very popular destination for Chinese travellers – surpassed Ireland for beautiful landscape, with Ireland ranking equally with France in this area.

The research also shows that sightseeing and visiting internationally-recognised, iconic sites are important for Chinese travellers. In fact, 70% of those surveyed mentioned that UNESCO accredited sites are important in their choice of destination. This presents an opportunity for the island of Ireland, given that we have three UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Giant’s Causeway, Skellig Michael and Newgrange. Quaint Irish villages and other world-class sites such as Titanic Belfast and the Cliffs of Moher (visited in 2012 by China’s then vice-president Xi Jinping, who has since become president) were recognised by around two-thirds of the respondents.

Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar said: “The outbound Chinese tourism market will grow considerably in the next few years and today’s research shows that Ireland is well positioned to benefit from this growth. It reflects the very positive feedback we are getting during this promotional trip to China. While the number of Chinese visitors to Ireland is relatively small compared to our more established markets, we have seen good growth rates in recent years. Measures like the Visa Waiver Scheme have certainly helped, and last year 24 top Chinese tour operators marketed Ireland on the back of the new visa arrangements.”

Niall Gibbons, Tourism Ireland CEO, said: “The results of our survey of Chinese travelers are very positive and certainly re-affirm our strategy in China. We will continue to highlight Ireland’s landscape & spectacular scenery, placing particular emphasis on our natural, unspoilt environment and our UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which are some of our unique selling points in China.

“More than 60% of the people surveyed want to include multiple destinations during their trip to Europe – so our new partnership agreement with VisitBritain is particularly timely. Under the agreement, Tourism Ireland and VisitBritain will work more closely together – particularly in long-haul markets outside of Europe and North America – to promote the island of Ireland and Great Britain as destinations to be visited as part of a single holiday.

“This September, Tourism Ireland, together with a delegation of Irish tourism partners, will undertake a week-long sales mission to China, meeting and doing business with some of the top Chinese travel agents and tour operators. Tourism Ireland recently launched the Chinese version of its international website,, offering prospective Chinese visitors a new, one-stop shop for comprehensive information on all that the island of Ireland has to offer. The importance of Chinese social media is also a key element of our promotional strategy in this market.”

Another positive from the survey was that of the Chinese travelers surveyed, 62% claimed a reasonable degree of familiarity with Ireland, compared with 46% for Scotland. Over half (56%) of the respondents claimed to have seen communications about Ireland (this could have been on TV, in magazines, online, etc).



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