Some 50 Chinese travel professionals have been learning all about the island of Ireland at a training seminar in the city of Shenzhen, in south-eastern China, organised by Tourism Ireland in conjunction with Hainan Airlines.
Above is James Kenny, Tourism Ireland (back, centre), with travel agents in Shenzhen, at the training seminar about Ireland, organised in conjunction with Hainan Airlines.
The seminar – timed to coincide with this week’s launch of the new Hainan Airlines flight from Shenzhen to Dublin – was designed for travel agents who sell holidays to Europe, including Ireland and Britain, to inform them all about the island of Ireland and to really enthuse them about the destination. A key message was the new flight and easier-than-ever access for travellers from this part of China to Ireland.
Travel agents continue to play an important role in China, with Chinese travellers preferring to use a travel agent for a number of reasons, including convenience, language barriers, visa preparation and knowledge gaps.
This is the second Hainan Airlines service from Mainland China to Ireland – with Hainan already operating a service from Beijing since last year – and will help to significantly boost visitor numbers from China to Ireland this year. Tourism Ireland is working closely with Hainan Airlines this spring to highlight the island of Ireland and drive demand for the new service. Activity will include Ireland ads running on popular social platforms, as well as on the Hainan Airlines website, around St Patrick’s Day.
James Kenny, Tourism Ireland’s Manager China, said: “We were delighted to partner with Hainan Airlines to inform and enthuse key travel agents in the city of Shenzhen about the island of Ireland. China is the largest outbound travel market in the world and one that Tourism Ireland is committed to growing over the coming years. In 2018, we welcomed an estimated 100,000 Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland.”
As part of the seminar, the travel agents in Shenzhen learned about Dublin and Belfast, the Wild Atlantic Way and Causeway Coastal Route, as well as filming locations used in Game of Thrones and Star Wars. Tourism Ireland also highlighted the convenience of the British-Irish Visa Scheme, which allows Chinese nationals to visit both Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland, using a single visa.