Date: 20-Apr-2009Monday 20th April 2009 – Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare
There are 1.3billion Chinese but last year only 7,000 visited Ireland. Tourism Ireland in China predict that approx 10,000 will come in 2009 and many will be hoping to see the Cliffs of Moher as a highlight of their trip. So Katherine Webster, Director of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, learned on her recent visit to Shanghai as part of a Tourism Ireland trade mission to this exciting developing market for Irish tourism.
Tourism Ireland have been encouraging tourism stakeholders to invest in new and developing markets such as China, India and Japan in 2009 and the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience was one of a number of tourism businesses who travelled to Shanghai over Easter to participate in the World Travel Fair in the Shanghai New International Expo Centre from Thu 9th to Sat 11th April. Irish five star luxury hotels Adare Manor & Ritz Carlton Powerscourt were also represented at the event along side Slainte Ireland Tours who provide Cantonese & Mandarin speaking tour guides to inbound tours.
Tourism Ireland China, who recently opened a second office in Beijing, had also arranged sales calls with a number of the leading Shanghai tour operators who have tour products including Ireland. Webster is confident that the Shannon Region and County Clare will see strong growth in Chinese visitor numbers in the next number of years.
“Many of the Chinese tour operators I met told me that their most popular Irish itineraries were ones that started in Dublin and finished in Shannon and included a number of nights in the west as well as visit to the Cliffs of Moher,”
explained Webster. “In 2008 these itineraries weren’t available due to the cancellation of the Shannon Heathrow service but all of the operators were delighted that Aer Lingus had reinstated the service in March and expected good bookings in 2009 and beyond.”
What are Chinese visitors to Ireland looking for in their trip? “It’s a very different market from the likes of the USA”
answered Webster. “Obviously the Chinese have thousands of years of history and culture behind them and they are not as impressed with antiquity as the Americans or the Australians. However, they have a great feeling for Irish traditional music – the Chieftains and Riverdance are well known throughout China. And they love the wild Atlantic coastline – it’s something they are not at all used to in China. They’re far more impressed with our natural attractions than our cities which seems quite small stuff to them.”
With Shanghai’s population reaching 21 million this position is not that surprising. But some of their concerns about visiting Ireland came as a surprise to the group. Many Chinese are worried about visiting western countries due to their uncertainty about the food. While they may be prepared to try dining on Irish stew or bacon and cabbage or a try big Irish fry for breakfast they don’t want to be stuck with this type of fare for their entire holiday. The Tourism Ireland chief representative in China, Susan Li, stressed the need for Irish accommodation providers and restaurants to consider Chinese tastes in their catering options. Fortunately none of it is too difficult to provide. “Chinese people like to have some familiar dishes available on their trips abroad – noodle and rice dishes, seafood, light soups, fresh fruit etc. Hot food at breakfast is common but not exactly an Irish breakfast – rice porridge, hot rolls or even stir fry is a typical Chinese breakfast”
was explained to the Irish delegates during their orientation. “It would be a good idea to provide green tea as well as the more traditional Irish cuppa.”
Irish cultural references that Chinese people are familiar with tend to be modern ones – Chinese visitors to the Ireland stand during the tradeshow referenced U2 and recently released movies filmed in Ireland like “PS I Love You” or “Marley & Me”. Visits like this Tourism Ireland trade mission are important to raise the profile of Ireland as a tourism destination in the view of the Chinese traveller. While the number of Chinese travelling abroad is still small the vast population of the country make this a market with huge potential for Irish tourism over the medium to long term.
Brochures printed in simplified Chinese for the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience were popular at the tradeshow stand and over 1,000 copies were distributed as well as translated business cards. “I’ve already started getting emails from Chinese contacts made in Shanghai”
confirmed Webster “and we’ve compiled a special mailing list for info on the Cliffs and County Clare from the Chinese cards that I collected. We’re expecting a Chinese group of tour operators and travel agents on Clare at the end of May and we’ve seen a few Chinese tour groups here already this year. It’s just the start of things to come.”
More information on the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience is available on the Cliffs of Moher website www.cliffsofmoher.ie
Note to Editor:
Katherine Webster, Director of te Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience: email@example.com or 065 7086141 / 085 1303579 is available for interview and further comment.
Photo attached shows from left to right
Fang Liu - Tourism Ireland Shanghai, Jill O’Hare – Ritz Carlton Ireland, Bernie McKeogh – Adare Manor, Katherine Webster – Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, Min Lin Siew – Slainte Ireland Tours & Susan Li – Tourism Ireland China at the Tourism Ireland stand at the World Travel Fair in Shanghai April 2009.