Ireland has won a ‘most promising overseas destination’ award at a travel summit in China. The award was presented to Tourism Ireland at the V-Influence Summit in Chengdu, organised by Sina Weibo – the hugely popular microblogging site, often described as the Chinese version of Twitter. The event was attended by hundreds of influencers (many of those attending have more than one million followers each), travel journalists and travel professionals from across China.

At the ceremony, Ireland was named one of the ‘most promising overseas destinations’ in the world, along with countries like Argentina and Peru. The award was presented for Tourism Ireland’s activity to raise interest in the island of Ireland among Chinese travellers on social media. Tourism Ireland has around 176,000 Chinese followers on Weibo, up around +11% since the beginning of this year; the organisation also has thousands of followers on other social platforms like WeChat and TikTok.

In 2018, we welcomed an estimated 100,000 Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland. Earlier this year, Tourism Ireland announced its intention to double its marketing investment in China, to €1 million, and to also double its marketing team to 12, this year – to grow Chinese visitor numbers to 200,000 by 2025.

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Around 61% of Chinese travellers seek opinions online before selecting a holiday destination and half of all destination planning is done on mobile devices – so, a key objective for Tourism Ireland is to raise awareness of Ireland through digital and social media.

David Boyce, Tourism Ireland’s Head of Middle East, Asia and Emerging Markets, said: “We are delighted that Ireland has been recognised as one of the most promising overseas destinations. Social media, and in particular Weibo here in China, is now an integral element of Tourism Ireland’s overall promotional programme, so we’re delighted to receive this award. We are constantly looking at innovative and engaging ways of reaching Chinese travelers – using great photos, videos and a range of engaging content to raise awareness of the island of Ireland among our followers and to ensure Ireland stands out from other destinations.

“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. We are confident that we are in a strong position to grow this emerging travel market over the coming years.”

Tourism Ireland is undertaking a busy programme of publicity, digital and social media activity in China throughout 2019. The organisation also works closely with leading online travel agents and tour operators and, this autumn, will undertake a second 2019 sales mission to China.