Stena Line has welcomed over 70,000 Chinese visitors on its Irish Sea vessels this year, having become the first passenger ferry company in Europe to achieve the Chinese Tourist Welcome (CTW) Certification that is officially recognised by tour operators in China and Europe.
The CTW Certification is the official travel service standard and travel platform recognised by the China Tourism Academy (CTA), China’s main governmental research and promotion institute, under the Chinese National Tourism Authority (CNTA).
Diane Poole, Stena Line’s Travel Commercial Manager (Irish Sea South) said: “We are extremely proud that we have been able to achieve this unique service standard for our Irish Sea services. Stena Line became the first passenger ferry company in Europe to be awarded the CTW certification for our ex-Belfast routes last year and I am delighted that our ex-Dublin services have now followed suit and are officially ‘China Ready’. The number of Chinese visitors we have been welcoming onboard our Stena Line vessels has been growing significantly in recent years, so it is important that we do all we can to make our guests feel welcome and valued.
“We made a number of changes onboard, including updating our current services, products and communications to ensure that we were ‘China Ready’ and focused on providing a special welcome to all of our Chinese passengers. We already welcome around 70,000 Chinese tourists annually on our Irish Sea routes and our latest certification means we are now recognised as the first in Europe to ensure that Chinese guests are treated to the best possible standards.”
The training programme was delivered by the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI), the world’s leading independent research institute for Chinese outbound tourism, and the Centre for Competitiveness (Ireland).
Dr Tony Lenehan, Executive Director, Centre for Competitiveness and COTRI (Ireland), said: “The commitment to ensuring that a special and focused welcome from the crew onboard and ashore from the Stena Line teams awaits the Chinese tourist is a great example of the professionalism and dedication to excellence that is synonymous with Stena Line as a major tourism and travel operator.”
Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive, Tourism Ireland, said: “Congratulations to Stena Line on welcoming 70,000 Chinese passengers this year and on becoming the first passenger ferry company in Europe to achieve the Chinese Welcome Certification. Stena Line has taken part in several of Tourism Ireland’s sales missions to China in recent years – so it is really great to see the result of those promotions and the significant growth in the number of Chinese visitors travelling on Stena Line vessels.
“The potential of the Chinese outbound travel market is significant, with Chinese travellers expected to number 250 million in the next few years. Currently, four million Chinese travel to Europe annually and Tourism Ireland is working hard to win a greater share of that business for the island of Ireland.”