Following the historic first transatlantic flights out of Cork this week by low-cost long-haul carrier Norwegian, a delegation of business leaders led by Cork Airport flew to Rhode Island on Thursday to meet key figures including state governor Gina Raimondo.
Minister of State for Tourism Brendan Griffin as well as representatives from Cork Chamber, Cork Business Association, Irish Hotels Federation, Cork City and County Councils, Irish Aviation Authority and the local travel trade were part of the delegation.
Chairman of business tourism public-private partnership Cork Convention Bureau, Seamus Heaney, said Rhode Island and states such as Connecticut and Massachusetts now offered huge potential to Cork for business as well as tourism.
“They are becoming more and more aware that it is not just Dublin and Shannon that have direct access, it is now Cork too. Direct access is crucial to business tourism as well as general business.
“People want as little stopovers as possible and we believe marketing Cork as a region with direct access can make a key difference. There is great potential coming from the US flights,” he said.
While Cork stakeholders were in Rhode Island, one of China’s largest e-commerce startups Mogujie, a fashion and lifestyle magazine targeting an audience of 160m predominantly young women, arrived in Ireland for a week to learn more about the Wild Atlantic Way and Dublin — A Breath of Fresh Air. Mogujie joined representatives from Lonely Planet, San Lian Life Weekly and other online media, predominantly focusing on Dingle in Co Kerry.
Fáilte Ireland’s head of international publicity, Ciara Sugrue said: “China is the world’s largest source market, accounting for an estimated 85m outbound trips in 2016.
It is also projected that Europe will welcome an estimated 11m Chinese arrivals in 2016 — a share of 12% of the Chinese market. With the Chinese market to Europe forecast to grow 9% per annum over the next five years, these Chinese decision-makers have the capacity to deliver significant amounts of visitors to Ireland and their presence here is testament to Ireland’s appeal as a destination.”
Cork’s twinning with Shanghai is a further opportunity for business tourism, said Mr Heaney.
“The twinning broke the mould and Cork is already fairly well known in the Shanghai region,” he said.