Fáilte Ireland targeting lucrative sector but coronavirus hitting high-spending Chinese
Fáilte Ireland, the State tourism agency, says that last year it helped to attract international conferences and business events to Ireland worth €212 million to the economy, an increase of 4 per cent.
The agency’s chief executive, Paul Kelly, said about €47 million worth of conference and meetings business was attracted to regional locations outside of Dublin, in partnership with regional convention bureaus in Galway, Kerry, Cork and Shannon.
Fáilte Ireland said it also aims to grow the State’s share of the international business tourism market segment in 2020. Tourism officials have prioritised attracting business tourism in recent years, as they tend to spend more on meals and accommodation per head than average leisure tourists.
Business tourism is worth €740 million to the economy overall, and State officials are aiming to drive this beyond €1 billion annually over the next five years.
“We already have over 660 leads for international business events that we are working on converting which would generate more than €400 million to the economy,” said Ciara Gallagher, Fáilte Ireland’s “Meet in Ireland” manager.
Recent wins for the sector here include the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence, which will bring 600 delegates to the State in 2021, worth €1.1 million.
A convention in Dublin this April of medical professionals from the European Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy is expected to attract 2,800 delegates, generating about €4.6 million for the economy. Meanwhile, a convention of librarians in August is expected to generate €6.4 million from 4,000 delegates.
Separately, Chinese tourists, who were identified by Irish officials as a lucrative source market to tap for future growth, have largely stopped travel to European capitals in recent weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to multiple reports.
Close to 200 million Chinese tourists travel abroad annually, making it the world’s largest outbound market. Only about 100,000 come to Ireland, but State officials from Tourism Ireland recently announced plans to double that number by 2025 by more heavily marketing the island there.
However, the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in a sharp decline, which particularly hurts luxury retail outlets that target Chinese tourists, who tend to be wealthy and brand-conscious.
Kildare Village is among the Irish retail centres that specifically targets Chinese tourists who visit the Republic.
Published irishtimes.com/business, 09 February 2020