Filed under: Local News |


Spike Island in Cork is building a bridge to China by lighting up the Fort entrance in the red of the Chinese flag on Saturday 03rd March. The iconic fort entrance, which saw tens of thousands of prisoners and soldiers pass beneath its arch, will go from stone grey to red to mark the event. Some pre-booked visitors on an After Dark tour of the island will be able to experience the event, which will be shown in China to mark EU – China cooperation, with a reciprocal event planned in China around EU day in May.

The occasion is part of the ‘EU pillar of light bridge’ event where landmarks across Europe will light up in red to coincide with the lantern festival in China. 2018 is the EU – China year of tourism, with great efforts underway to increase the number of visitors going in both directions, and cooperation by both countries tourism bodies.

Visitor from China to Europe tripled in the last 10 years and Chinese visitors to Ireland grew by 10000 to 70000 in 2017. The introduction of new routes from Dublin to Hong Kong, the first ever direct flights from Ireland to China, are expected to see these numbers grow rapidly, with double digit growth predicted.

The introduction of a UK – Ireland visa scheme which allows Chinese visitors to enter both countries with the one visa is also being credited with driving numbers. With Chinese visitors becoming the single largest market in the world for outbound visitors in 2017, with over 100 million heading abroad, such links are seen as vital to ensure Europe and Ireland benefit from the rising Chinese tide.

Spike Island was named Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction of 2017 and the Cork County Council site became one of the first attractions in Ireland to be Chinese Outbound Tourism approved in 2017, certifying the island as ready to welcome Chinese visitors with greetings, social media options and practices. Island Manager John Crotty commented “Chinese visitors are set to be a huge contributor to Irish tourism and some sites in the UK are already seeing up to 10% of their visitors coming from China. It is vital that Irish sites are prepared for what is likely to be rapid growth in this area, and getting COTRI approved is a great first step”.

The island hopes to add an International Welcome Hub as part of its phase 2 upgrades, which would include Chinese language information options for Chinese visitors. The island is currently open Saturday’s only by advance booking, and will reopen to visitors for weekends from St Patrick’s weekend with 7 day opening from May until October