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Ferry Company Says ‘Ni Hao’ In Welcoming Over 70,000 Chinese Visitors on Irish Sea

18th October 2018
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Ferry operator Stena Line says ‘Ni Hao’ (Hello) in welcoming rising number of Chinese customers on its Irish Sea services Ferry operator Stena Line says ‘Ni Hao’ (Hello) in welcoming rising number of Chinese customers on its Irish Sea services Photo: Stena Line

#FerryNews - Operator, Stena Line welcomed over 70,000 Chinese visitors on its Irish Sea vessels this year having become the first passenger ferry company in Europe to achieve the Chinese Tourist Welcome (CTW) Certification.

The CTW is officially recognised by tour operators in China and Europe. In addition the certification is also the official travel service standard and travel platform recognised by the China Tourism Academy (CTA), China's main governmental research and promotion institute, under the Chinese National Tourism Authority (CNTA).

Diane Poole OBE, Stena Line’s Travel Commercial Manager (Irish Sea South) said: “We’re extremely proud that we have been able to achieve this unique service standard for our Irish Sea services. Stena Line became the first passenger ferry company in Europe to be awarded the CTW certification for our ex Belfast routes last year and I’m delighted that our ex Dublin services have now followed suit and are officially ‘China Ready’. The number of Chinese visitors we have been welcoming onboard our Stena Line vessels has been growing significantly in recent years so it’s important that we do all we can to make our guests feel welcome and valued.”

Diane added: “We made a number of changes onboard including updating our current services, products and communications to ensure that we we’re ‘China Ready’ and focused on providing a special welcome to all of our Chinese passengers. We already welcome around 70,000 Chinese tourists annually on our Irish Sea routes and our latest certification means we are now recognised as the first in Europe to ensure that Chinese guests are treated to the best possible standards.”

The training programme was delivered by China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI), the world’s leading independent research institute for Chinese outbound tourism, and the Centre for Competitiveness (Ireland).

Dr Tony Lenehan, Executive Director of the Centre for Competitiveness and COTRI (Ireland) said: “The commitment to ensuring that a special and focused welcome from the crew onboard and ashore from the Stena Line teams awaits the Chinese Tourist is a great example of the professionalism and dedication to excellence which is synonymous with Stena Line as a major tourism and travel operator.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Congratulations to Stena Line on welcoming 70,000 Chinese passengers this year and on becoming the first passenger ferry company in Europe to achieve the Chinese Welcome Certification. Stena Line has taken part in several of Tourism Ireland’s sales missions to China in recent years – so it’s really great to see the result of those promotions and the significant growth in the number of Chinese visitors travelling on Stena Line vessels.

“The potential of the Chinese outbound travel market is significant, with Chinese travellers expected to number 250 million in the next few years. Currently, 4 million Chinese travel to Europe annually and Tourism Ireland is working hard to win a greater share of that business for the island of Ireland.”

 

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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