His Excellency, Dr. Yue Xiaoyong, Chinese Ambassador to Ireland, was the guest of honour last week at an “Illuminating Meath” EU-China event, hosted by Meath County Council as part of the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year.
The lighting ceremony, held at the Buvinda House HQ of Meath County Council, was organised to coincide with the celebration of the Lantern Festival in China and was attended by local representatives and tourism providers. The Ambassador was accompanied by Chinese Embassy representative Mme Yang Hua, Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission of the Chinese Embassy.
Buvinda House was illuminated in red for the special occasion. Meath’s Lung Ying Academy performed a traditional lion dance to open the event and locally produced Boyne Valley food was sampled, along with traditional Chinese cuisine.
The Make It Meath promotional video and marketing brochure, translated into Mandarin for the Chinese market, was presented to Ambassador Yue.
Cllr. Gerry O’Connor, Cathaoirleach, Meath County Council said, “It was a great honour to welcome His Excellency, Dr. Yue Xiaoyon and guests from the Chinese Embassy to our offices in Meath for the ‘Illuminating Meath’ event. The commencement of direct flights between Ireland and China later this year, coupled with the new British-Irish Visa Scheme which enables Chinese travellers to visit both Ireland and the UK on a single visa, provides significant opportunities for the tourism industry in Ireland and in particular the Boyne Valley, the birthplace of Ireland’s Ancient East”.
Ambassador Yue highlighted 2018 as being China-EU Tourism Year. He noted, as Chinese and European exchanges and mutual understanding expands, the potential for further cooperation keeps growing year by year. Significant progress in areas such as education, science and innovation, culture and tourism have also been witnessed, particularly with the Chinese language being added to the Leaving Cert curriculum in 2022. Ambassador Yue was very interested in the Boyne Valley, having already visited Newgrange, and discussed sites such as Kells and the Hill of Ward with Cllr. O'Connor and Boyne Valley Tourism staff.
Ambassador Yue continued, ‘I’m particularly happy to note that the friendly exchanges at sub national levels between China and Ireland have been expanding and deepening. County Meath has played an active part in this, as a leading county in terms of reaching out to Chinese partners such as Guiyang City in Guizhou Province in southwest of China. I would like to encourage both Meath and Guiyang to cooperate and contribute to the strong and growing Sino-Irish relations.’
Trade between China and Ireland is now worth almost €11 billion and over 70,000 Chinese visited Ireland in 2017 with many experiencing Meath and the Boyne Valley. With an objective to attract the Chinese visitor in the future, Meath County Council and Boyne Valley Tourism are continuing to build further the relationships with the Chinese tourism market during 2018, the EU-China Tourism Year.
Kevin Stewart, Director of Service, Planning, Enterprise & Environment at Meath County Council, said, “I was delighted to get the opportunity to tell the Ambassador why we believe Meath is Ireland’s best business location. I assured him that we would have a warm welcome for potential investors and that we looked forward to seeing new Chinese companies establish in Meath. I was also pleased to tell him that there are Meath based companies already doing business in China and that they were keen to grow their business into that expanding