More than 50,000 Chinese tourists already come to Ireland every year
Hainan Airlines will consider the opening of a new direct route between Dublin and Beijing as soon as it beds in its recently-launched service to Manchester from the Chinese capital, according to William Zhang, Hainan’s chief operating officer.
He was speaking at a briefing with the Irish-based aircraft leasing company, Avolon which Hainan’s parent group, HNA purchased for $2.6bn earlier this year - he said that the launch of a Dublin service is "very likely."
The daa and Tourism Ireland have been working to establish a direct route to China for many years, which, apart from its business travel benefits, could significantly boost the 50,000 Chinese tourists coming to Ireland every year
Growth in these numbers could also depend on the result of this week's Brexit vote because if Britain decides to leave the EU, it’s likely to affect the joint UK/Ireland visa arrangement for Chinese and indeed Indian visitors, agreed two years ago.
The number of Chinese tourists to Ireland is likely to grow by more than 10% during this year, according to the chief executive of Tourism Ireland, Niall Gibbons.
Mr Gibbons stressed the importance of direct flights from either from Beijing or Shanghai to Ireland to boost tourism - speaking in Beijing in May he said, "A direct flight into Ireland from China is absolutely essential ... and we hope to see that be beneficial in the short-term, not the medium term."