China targeted in bid to lure more tourists
Some of Northern Ireland's major visitor attractions will be touting for business in China next month as part of a Tourism Ireland trade mission.
The Giant's Causeway and Titanic Belfast are taking part in the four city tour of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, targeting top Chinese travel agents and tour operators, while 14 tourism companies, north and south, will be represented, including Stena Line.
They'll be taking part in a programme of workshops, presentations and networking events.
China is an important emerging travel market. According to latest data from the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organisation), China is now the world's largest outbound travel market, with some 120m people travelling overseas each year, spending about $165bn.
It's estimated that four million Chinese people visit Europe every year. In 2015, Ireland welcomed around 45,000 Chinese visitors - a staggering 122% increase on 2013 - and Tourism Ireland is confident the figure will hit at least 50,000 by 2017. The British-Irish Visa Scheme makes it easier for Chinese visitors to visit both Ireland and the UK on a single visa.
Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said: "The trade mission will give our tourism partners a platform to inform and influence the Chinese travel trade on all that Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland have to offer and, importantly, encourage them to include the destination in their brochures and programmes."