IRELAND HAS BEEN voted “most popular destination 2012″ at an awards ceremony in Shanghai, China. The annual awards, the Special Trip: The World Travel Awards, are organised by a daily newspaper in Shanghai, The Oriental Morning Post, with about 600,000 readers.
The awards celebrate excellence in travel and the winners are voted by readers of the newspaper as well as travel specialists from around China.
In a recent survey in a weekly publication in Beijing with about 300,000 readers, Ireland was also named the “most charming destination 2012″.
This is the second year in a row that Ireland has scooped the most popular destination award at the Shanghai ceremony and Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland said the Chinese market is an important one for Ireland to tap into with around two million Chinese people visiting Europe each year.
“I am confident that these awards will enhance the reputation of the island of Ireland and help to attract more Chinese visitors in 2013 and beyond,” he said.
Since the visa waiver scheme was introduced by the Irish Government, there has been a noted increase in demand among Chinese tour operators for visas for Ireland, according to Tourism Ireland. A number of tour operators in China also began programming Ireland for the first time last year, on the back of the new arrangements.
Gibbons said Tourism Ireland will continue to work hard to put Ireland “on the map in emerging markets like China, which offers exciting possibilities for tourism in the medium to long-term”.