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Direct flight from China to Ireland hoped to attract more Chinese tourists.

January 26, 2018

Ireland hopes to welcome 100,000 Chinese tourists per year after the first direct air link between the country and China gets off the ground this June. Cathay Pacific will fly between Dublin and Hong Kong four times a week.

Last year, around 70,000 Chinese travellers visited Ireland.

Tourism Ireland, the national tourism board, said the connection will mean Chinese visitors can travel directly to Ireland without going via the United Kingdom or continental Europe.

James Kenny, Tourism Ireland’s China manager predicts there will be a big increase in visits.

“We expect to see a considerable increase in visitor numbers and expect to break the 100,000 barrier in the not so distant future with the launch of direct flights,” he said.

Chinese tourists are among the biggest spenders among international tourists and the market is an important one for Tourism Ireland. Kenny said Ireland has not yet reached its potential, despite double-digit growth every year for some time.

“To prepare for this, we initiated a China-ready program last year and the Irish tourism industry is highly engaged in training for such aspects as language, culture, routes to market, food and drink, to welcome the increasing number of Chinese visitors,” he said.

While an air access is crucial for island destinations, Kenny believes awareness is another important factor and said the organization is working hard to raise awareness of Ireland in China through online and offline marketing campaigns.

“Our extensive marketing campaign across the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong highlight the key attractions on the island of Ireland,” he said. Among them is the landscape, the Wild Atlantic Way, which bills itself as the longest coastal driving route in the world, and film locations for both Game of Thrones and Star Wars.

The new flight connection is also a welcoming development as Ireland seeks to diversify its tourism sources in preparation for the UK’s departure from the European Union.

There has been announcements last year of a direct flight between the Chinese capital Beijing and Dublin, which had hoped to be up and running. However this appears to have been delayed without any further announcements.