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Varadkar says Chinese VP's visit can boost Irish tourism

The Transport, Tourism and Sport Minister reckons Xi’s visit to the likes of Croke Park can only benefit tourism from China.

Xi with GAA president Christy Cooney (left) and Transport Minister Leo Varadkar at Croke Park yestderday.
Xi with GAA president Christy Cooney (left) and Transport Minister Leo Varadkar at Croke Park yestderday.
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

TRANSPORT AND TOURISM Minister Leo Varadkar believes that the visit of China’s vice-president Xi Jinping can boost tourism to Ireland.

Varadkar said that the extensive Chinese media coverage of Xi’s visit to the Cliffs of Moher and Croke Park as well as his attendance at a Riverdance concert would mean that these attractions’ profile will have been increased in China.

“The extensive coverage in the Chinese media of the visit by Vice-President Xi has done tremendous work in raising Ireland’s profile as a tourism destination,” he claimed in a statement.

It is estimated that round 10,000 Chinese visitors come to Ireland each year and the Minister said this had the potential for “significant growth” given China’s strong economy and growing population which is now well over one billion.

“There has already a notable increase in interest in Ireland by Chinese tour operators since the Government included China in the visa waiver scheme, which allows visitors to enter Ireland on a UK travel visa,” Varadkar added.

The visit of Xi Jinping has attracted considerable attention from the Chinese media with the state news agency Xinhua carrying his meeting with Irish president Michael D Higgins on its website home page today.

In today’s Irish Times, Clifford Coonan in Beijing reported that Liu Xiuping, one of the country’s most famous news broadcasters, presented the main evening news show from Dublin Castle last night.

The three-day visit concluded today amid much optimism about the business and trade relationships secured with the Chinese government as various government ministers including the Taoiseach plan to visit Asia later this year.

Earlier, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore insisted that he had raised the thorny issue of human rights with Xi but admitted that no specific cases involving individuals were discussed in contrast to the conversations other Western leaders have had with Chinese officials.

Taoiseach praises ‘special relationship’ as Xi Jinping visit enters final day

Higgins criticises ‘obsequious’ welcome of Chinese vice-president

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Hugh O'Connell

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