Killarney jarveys brush up on Cantonese

A Chinese takeaway with a difference is on the menu and it is certainly whetting the appetite of the tourism industry.

Tens of thousands of big-spending visitors from China are expected to flock here in unprecedented numbers in the coming years and the huge influx has the potential to revolutionise the hotel and hospitality industry.

Ryanair’s newly appointed Chief Operations Officer, Peter Bellew, who has spent the past two years at the helm of Malaysia Airlines, said expected greater connectivity between Ireland and China is likely to result in growth of between 40 and 60 per cent in Chinese tourists visiting Europe in the next two to three years and all indications are that they are determined to visit Ireland.

“They love coming to Ireland, particularly the west of Ireland and, boy, do they spend money when they come here,” Mr Bellew told the National Tourism Forum Let’s Talk Tourism conference in the Brehon Hotel, Killarney on Friday.

He said Chinese holidaymakers prefer a better class of luxury hotel and they are very big spenders when they arrive.

“Never in my life have I seen a greater opportunity in terms of tourism than the Chinese market. There have been 25 million new passports issued there in just a year, they are crying out to travel and their government is telling them to travel,” he told the gathering of Irish tourism leaders via satellite link from his current base in Malaysia.

Mr Bellew said the government now needs to invest in promoting Ireland in China and, he stressed, the Chinese are ready and willing to do business and have no problems paying their bills.

“They are the world’s top tourism spenders, much bigger than the USA and we are only scratching the surface. The total revenue raised from China would be greater than all other markets put together,” he added.

The new Ryanair Chief Operations Officer said, however, that Ireland’s tourist industry will need to adequately prepare for the expected mass influx.

“The food in China is nothing like you would get in a Chinese takeaway in Killarney but it’s simple food and one or two days of training would be all that‘s required,” he said.

More local tourism workers will also need to learn to speak Chinese as a matter of priority and, Mr Bellew remarked: “My experience is that we can expect the jarveys up in the Gap of Dunloe in Killarney to be fluent in Chinese and Cantonese by Christmas 2019.”