Fine Gael Dublin Senator, Catherine Noone, has today (Wednesday) welcomed an award by China’s largest online travel agent, CTrip, pronouncing Ireland as the ‘destination offering the most potential for Chinese travellers’ at a ceremony in Shanghai yesterday.
“I am delighted to hear that Chinese holiday makers have such an interest in visiting Ireland. Over three million members of China’s largest online travel agent, CTrip, took part in a survey to determine the destination offering the most potential for Chinese travellers. Ireland fought off stiff competition from South Africa, Dubai, Turkey, Sweden, Kenya and Queensland in order to win the award.
“This is fantastic news for Ireland as the Chinese market is the largest in the world and represents a huge opportunity for Irish tourism in an, as of yet, relatively untapped market.
“Tourism Ireland is now committed to growing visitor numbers from China – from around 17,000 visitors in 2012 to 50,000 per year, over the coming five years, which will result in enormous economic benefits for Ireland.
“However if we are to attract more visitors, it is imperative that we are ready for them, with all the resources needed to ensure they have a great experience in Ireland.
“Last week, the President of the Irish Hotels Federation, Stephen McNally, estimated that there are now 3,000 unfilled vacancies in the hotel and catering trade and employers are facing an increasing struggle to find trained staff.
“It is a testament to the success of the myriad of Government measures, including retaining the 9% VAT rate, that tourism is growing at such a healthy pace – but the employee shortage needs to be addressed as a matter of priority. Although unemployment has steadily decreased, the official figures currently stand at 12%.
“As such, there is a large pool of potential employees in this country which could find employment in the hotel and catering industry. I am now calling for a co-ordinated plan, and for greater collaboration between the education and training boards and VECs to help resolve this issue, which would both boost tourism whilst taking thousands more people off the live register.”