Tourism Growth from China – real possibilities following UK exit decision

Thursday 30th June 2016:  Trinity College today hosted a unique event arising from the twinning of Beijing and Dublin. A Study Tour of senior officials and tourist organisations from Beijing visited Ireland to promote Beijing as a destination and to discover the opportunities for organised tours and business events from China being brought to Dublin.  The event takes place in the Graduate Memorial Building in Trinity College Dublin and is organised by the World Cities Tourism Federation (WCTF). Dublin is a founding member alongside Beijing of this global association that promotes tourism between cities. The WCTF has members from City Governments in every continent, from airlines and travel associations, and from tour operators.

Dublin City Council are delighted to collaborate with the WCTF in this first ever Beijing Study Tour. It is the first visit to Dublin of Song Yu the Secretary General of the WCTF who is a keynote speaker at the Trinity event. Dublin intends bidding for the WCTF Annual Conference in 2017 which will draw over 500 leaders of the Tourism global industry to Ireland.  The presence of the leadership of the WCTF in Dublin will be valuable in terms of the Conference Bid.

Peter Finnegan, Dublin City Council, remarked: “The future of this planet will largely depend on how cities connect with each other and deal with the challenges of sustainable economic development. China and Asia are increasingly the centre of economic expansion and offer opportunities for business in Ireland. Dublin joined the WCTF to support Tourist related businesses access the Chinese Market and develop their global reach.  Tourism has many faces.  In addition to leisure/holiday tourism, we see business conferences and student/education placement as part of the broader tourism sector.  For a city like Dublin this not only contributes to the economy but also strengthens global knowledge of Ireland, improves our cultural reach, and provides windows for future investment and staff acquisition for all types of business.”

The Irish membership consists of Dublin City Council and the Dublin Airport Authority. At the event Belfast declared its intent to join the WCTF, strengthening participation of the island of Ireland. The participation of Belfast with Dublin strengthens the Belfast –Dublin Economic Corridor as the engine of tourism expansion on the island.

Since the signing of the agreement between Dublin and Beijing there has been growth in student numbers coming to Ireland and growth in general business traffic.  New Zealand attracts over ten times the student numbers coming to Ireland from China, yet the distance is the same. Large organised Chinese tours generally visit a number of European Cities and Ireland not being in Schengen is a disadvantage. The fallout from the recent decision by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union could make Dublin a more attractive destination for Chinese and Asian Tour Operators and Business Conference Organisers. Dublin and Belfast have identified through the WCTF the potential for an increase in Cruise Tourism Business as one market segment of particular interest.  

The key to tourist growth between Ireland and China is the provision of direct flights. The Dublin Airport Authority has been working on persuading airlines to fly directly into Ireland. Recent press coverage would indicate the strong probability that at least one Chinese Airline is willing to fly directly into Ireland. The uncertainty of the UK’s future within Europe may well make Ireland a more attractive airline gateway into Europe and beyond to the Americas.

The Study Tour in Trinity will allow for debate and discussion on the views of both the Chinese and Irish speakers on future tourism growth between Ireland and China.