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23rd September, 2013


Belfast Development Promoted at Major Tourism Events in China

Representatives from Titanic Quarter are attending two of China’s largest tourism industry events this week.  The visit is part of a global marketing initiative, and follows last week’s trip to New York with Northern Ireland’s First and deputy First Ministers.

The Pacific Asia Travel Association’s (PATA) Travel Mart in Chengdu attracts over 1,000 buyers and sellers from the Chinese tourism industry while the Global Tourism Economy Forum (GTEF) in Macau will be attended by some of the most influential entrepreneurs and decision makers in Asia.  The visits have been facilitated by PATA’s CEO, Martin Craigs, originally from Belfast.

The number of Chinese visiting overseas has grown rapidly in recent years from just 10 million in 2000 to 83 million in 2012.  Rapid urbanization and an emerging middle class have already made Chinese travellers the world’s highest spending.  Titanic Quarter is aiming to translate the country’s fascination with Titanic into investment and visitors.

David Gavaghan, Titanic Quarter’s CEO, who will be speaking at the GTEF said:

“The Chinese President, Xi Jinping, has forecast that the number of outbound Chinese tourists may exceed 400 million by 2018. The size of the market is almost incomprehensible but the opportunities for Titanic Quarter, and Titanic Belfast in particular, are enormous.

“We’re only just starting to tap into the Chinese market, but the UK’s largest Chinese travel agent is already bringing weekly tours to Titanic Belfast.  Chinese investors are also increasingly looking at UK locations, primarily London, but we believe that Belfast’s strong value proposition will prove attractive too.

“The visit is also providing an insight into China’s rapid emergence as an economic superpower and there is much that we can learn from its transformation as we seek to compete for global capital and know-how.”

Headquartered in Bangkok, PATA represents 2,500 global members. Its CEO, Martin Craigs, began his career in the 1980s with Belfast’s Short Brothers. Mr. Craigs said:

“Having visited Titanic Belfast last year with the Secretary General of the UN’s World Travel Organisation, Taleb Rifai, I know that Northern Ireland has an impressive tourism offering for Asian travelers.

“Long-term the key to helping Northern Ireland access this immense market is to promote a direct air link between Belfast and China.  Given the enormous appeal of Titanic to Chinese audiences and the growing lack of capacity in London’s airports, the concept of a direct link could become a reality.  That’s something which I personally want to see and it’s an issue which I’ve already broached with carriers.”

The Chinese visit follows last week’s mission to New York where Titanic Quarter joined Northern Ireland’s First and deputy First Minister on a tour of the Steiner Studios at the Brooklyn Naval Yard. 

The Ministers and Mr. Gavaghan also spoke at the annual Wall Street 50 event which honours 50 of the most influential Irish-American and Irish-born financiers.  Organized by Irish America magazine the event was sponsored by Titanic Quarter and Invest NI.