The strong links between Wicklow and China and what both had to offer each other were emphasised by His Excellency Ambassador YUE Xiaoyong, Chinese Ambassador to Ireland, at a function in Powercourt House on Monday night.
Ambassador Yue was in the Enniskerry venue to launch the Mandarin Chinese version of the Wicklow Tourism Brochure.
He congratulated Wicklow County Council and all involved in the launch of the China brochure saying that “It highlights what Wicklow is rightly proud of, its natural scenery, a rich cultural heritage, lively outdoor activities and world class golf courses.”
Speaking about efforts to bring China, the largest developing economy in the world, and Ireland, Europe’s fastest growing economy, closer together, he said: “We are both courageously embracing globalization and seizing opportunities with it”.
He cited China’s Belt and Road initiative as an example of enhancing international co-operation and indicated President Xi Jinping’s comments at the Boao Forum in Hainan that China would continue to increase openness and expand cooperation.
Ambassador Yue praised Wicklow County Council’s relationship with one of the most open and dynamic provinces in China – Hainan.
Hainan, he said, was developing as a pilot zone for integration with the global economy including the development of the natural environment, an international tourism centre and major national strategic logistics zone. Visitors from 59 countries will be able to visit Hainan without a Chinese visa, subject to booking requirements.
Ambassador Yue commented on the fact that last week three beef processing plants in Ireland were approved by Chinese authorities to export Irish beef to the huge Chinese market and spoke of the many opportunities becoming available to Irish businesses as China further opens its vast market. Referencing a great Chinese poet, he said it was time to “seize the moment”.
In July 2017 the Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Cllr Edward Timmins, and the Vice Governor of Hainan Province, Mr MAO Chaofeng, signed a friendship agreement between Hainan Province and Wicklow, committing to cooperate and facilitate mutual exchanges in areas such as Tourism, Education, Science, Agriculture, Forestry and Culture.
In November of 2017 the Cathaoirleach led a delegation to participate in a major tourism event in Hainan. “The invitation to the Hainan International Tourism Island Carnival and the 2017 Hainan World Leisure Tourism Expo was the inspiration behind the creation of this brochure”, he said.
The brochure was initially prepared for the purposes of promoting Wicklow at the Hainan event but reprinted to celebrate the 2018 EU China Year of Tourism and the fact that direct flights from Beijing and Hong Kong to Ireland are to due commence in June of this year.
After a short video showcasing the highlights of the Wicklow visit to Hainan, Cllr Timmins told Ambassador Yue that “we hope to learn through engagement with our friends in Hainan and in China to become ‘China ready’…and how we can go about making you feel valued, entertained and welcomed, to the extent that you will come back again and again”.
Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council, Mr Frank Curran, said he was sure all would agree that the brochure was an excellent calling card and a great way of promoting County Wicklow and Ireland in China.
He added that “Tourism is one of the key drivers of the economic development policy for County Wicklow, along with film and food and beverages. It is the combination of these three drivers that make a visit to Wicklow a unique experience”.
Mr Curran spoke about Wicklow’s high-quality accommodation and excellent food and drink including Wicklow lamb, artisan cheeses and a unique range of beverages from Black Castle Lemonade, to Wicklow Way Wines, a variety of craft beers, whiskey and gin.
He said that “the incredible great houses and gardens of Wicklow such as the world renowned Powerscourt House and gems such as Kilmacurragh National Botanic Gardens add to our very special offering. “
Entertainment on the evening was provided by two talented local musicians, harpist Rachel Duffy and flautist Sadhbh Byrne, along with a troop of young Irish Dancers from the Lisa Marie Berry School of Dance and traditional Chinese Lion Dancers.