A delegation from Wicklow County Council and tourism interests along with a troupe of musicians and performers are visiting the Hainan Province in China to promote the county and its attractions.
The group is attending the Hainan International Tourism Island Carnival and the 2017 Hainan World Leisure Tourism Expo which is taking place in Hainan International Convention & Exhibition Centre, Haikou, China.
Wicklow is one of 30 international delegations to be provided with an exhibition stand at the Expo at which 1,000 exhibitors representing the travel trade, attractions and hotels, will set up stall.
The Expo will be attended by major inbound and outbound tour operators from all over China. It is anticipated that 150,000 travel professionals, as well as domestic and foreign buyers, will attend the event.
The delegation will also visit Shanghai where they will attend a number of meetings with Tourism Ireland, a variety of tour operators and Government Officials.
Wicklow’s delegation includes the Cathaoirleach and Leas Cathaoirleach, an official from the Economic Development Unit, representatives of Wicklow County Tourism and six award-winning traditional musicians/performers, including a harpist, a piper, three flautists, a melodeon player, a sean nos singer and two Irish dancers.
According to Cllr Edward Timmins, Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, “The invitation to the Hainan International Tourism Island Carnival and World Leisure Tourism Expo could not have come at a better time. Visitor numbers from China to Ireland are rapidly increasing and set to rise further in 2018 when Cathay Pacific will operate direct flights from Hong Kong to Dublin in June of next year and it is anticipated that Hainan Airlines will operate flights from Beijing to Dublin within the year also.”
Mr Frederic Verdier, Business Development and Marketing Executive at Wicklow County Tourism, said the visit “affords us a great opportunity to sell Wicklow as the ideal location for visitors from China to base themselves, to enjoy all that Wicklow has to offer, to visit Dublin and our neighbouring counties and also to take trips further afield such as to Belfast and the Giants Causeway and to the Cliffs of Moher.
“We are fortunate to have the support and assistance of students of Hainan University who are part of the Hainan /Dublin Institute of Technology Programme and who have studied in Dublin and have been to Wicklow, to help us to promote County Wicklow and indeed Ireland. “
2018 is European Union China Tourism year. It is intended that during the year, through a variety of projects, the countries of Europe will develop a better understanding of the needs and preferences of visitors from the Peoples Republic of China. This opportunity will give Ireland an excellent head start.
Wicklow County Council and Hainan Province, China signed a Friendship Agreement in July of this year. The agreement was co-signed by Vice Governor of Hainan Province, Mr Mao Chaofeng and Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Councillor Edward Timmins. Both parties agreed to collaborate on a variety of initiatives in the areas of tourism, film, education, science, agriculture and forestry sectors and to promote cultural and social exchanges particularly among our young people.
Shortly after his return to Hainan, Vice Governor Mao extended an invitation to the Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council to lead a delegation to visit Hainan for the purpose of attending the Hainan International Tourism Island Carnival and the 2017 Hainan World Leisure Tourism Expo.
Hainan Island is China’s smallest province (population 9 million), situated in the South China Sea. Tourism is Hainan’s largest economic activity. An estimated 60 million peopled visit Hainan annually. It has hosted significant international events and conferences including the Volvo Ocean Race Sanya stopover and the Miss World Pageant. Most of the world’s major hotel groups are represented in Hainan.
Costs of the delegation have been kept to a minimum as Hainan Province has generously offered to cover accommodation, meals and travel for the group when on Hainan Island. The remaining cost to the delegation is €9,373 and while Wicklow County Council has paid the travel costs of the musicians in advance, thanks to the generosity of sponsors and members of Wicklow County Tourism, part of this cost has been defrayed.