Belfast Telegraph

More than 100 Chinese tour operators on way to Northern Ireland

By John Mulgrew

More than 100 Chinese tour operators are set to visit Northern Ireland to learn more about its potential as a holiday destination.

The tour firms will come here later this month in a mission led by Tourism NI.

Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell said "the pace of the growth of tourism in China is staggering".

"In 2015, Chinese outbound tourists will reach 100 million, growing 10-fold since the turn of the millennium.

"While the traditional visitor markets are still key, there is significant potential for us to attract many more Chinese visitors to Northern Ireland.

"The announcement that over 100 tour operators from China are to visit Northern Ireland at the end of this month is excellent news.

"Themed tour packages are extremely popular among Chinese travellers and they tend to rely heavily on travel agencies for packaged tours and booking assistance.

"The tour operators coming to Northern Ireland have the potential to influence the decision-making of thousands of Chinese visitors.

"Tourism Northern Ireland will be facilitating the visit, ensuring we showcase the very best of what Northern Ireland has to offer, including visiting a number of key visitor attractions such as Mount Stewart, Titanic Belfast and the Giant's Causeway."

Mr Bell also visited China in November last year as part of a trade mission, with his department trying to expand and strengthen Northern Ireland exports to the huge market.

He was also joined by a number of other exporters.

Last year, he told food producers he wanted the region's exports to China to pass £100m.

Northern Ireland pork has also now been given the green light to export to China, with the meat already being shipped this year.

Belfast Telegraph