Representatives from Mid and East Antrim attended a key conference aimed at boosting the Borough’s economic links with China.
The Building a Regional Partnership with China Workshop took place in Liverpool.
The event was aimed at councils and regional organisations keen to develop connections with their counterparts in China.
Councillor Audrey Wales MBE represented Mid and East Antrim at the conference, along with Council’s Investment and Place Manager, Karen Hastings.
Cllr Wales said: “This was a hugely beneficial conference during which we had the opportunity to meet face to face with a wide range of vital would-be contacts and partners.
“The networking event provided an invaluable opportunity to further explore how we best build relationships with China and harness a relationship aimed at boosting practical and mutual benefits.
“Developing our tourism potential and growing our economy are key priorities in Mid and East Antrim, and China is vital to that vision.
“Latest figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation show China is now the world’s largest outbound travel market – with more than 127 million people travelling overseas each year, spending over $292 billion.
“By 2020 Chinese travellers are expected to take over 200 million overseas trips.
“We are committed to promoting culture here and in China and doing all we can to showcase our superb tourism offering to the Chinese market and win a greater share of the four million Chinese visitors who travel to Europe each year.”
Cllr Wales added: “During my term as Mayor I was delighted to welcome Chinese Consul General, Madam Wang Shuying, to Mid and East Antrim.
“This was aimed at growing our relations with the Chinese community and to encourage local businesses to export to China. We also used the time we had together to promote Mid and East Antrim as an attractive location for Chinese investment.
“Consul General Wang Shuying was impressed by the offerings in Mid and East Antrim and its incredible potential as a great place to live, work, visit and invest in.
“Council’s Chief Executive, Anne Donaghy, has also been in contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which is working to establish more Council partnerships, and we look forward to continuing this exciting work.”
A group of tourism and hospitality providers in Mid and East Antrim recently completed a specialist training programme dedicated to helping businesses in the industry gain a better understanding of the needs of the highly travelled Chinese tourist.
The Chinese Tourist Welcome (CTW) Training Programme, facilitated by the Centre for Competitiveness (CforC) is the sole provider of China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) training and accreditation in Northern Ireland and the Republic.