TRANSITION year students in Limerick along with staff in the hospitality sector are being offered language and culture lessons in Mandarin Chinese.
Kilmartin Educational Services in Limerick and Ennis began the lessons in a bid to equip people with the knowledge they need for the Chinese tourism boost that the Fáilte Ireland China Ready Programme is expected to bring.
It’s also to prepare for increased Chinese-Irish trade expected to result from the approval for 14 beef plants in Ireland to export to China.
Having realised the significance of the Chinese market to Ireland, Course Director Robin Rynhart realised that teaching the Chinese language and culture to those who will be the future of business in Limerick is integral.
Furthermore, Robin believes Ireland and China have a unique bond.
“I found that both China and Ireland have dealt with poverty and the hardship of getting through a challenging period. There is a cultural bond there. We also both have strong agriculture.”
The Limerick Strand Hotel has been a leader in Limerick for preparing for the tourism boost having been the first hotel in the county to receive China Ready accreditation.
As they look to the future, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Limerick Strand Hotel, Maria O’Gorman Skelly says “it’s important to launch the China Ready programme for businesses because China is a whole new market for Ireland. And we saw that the potential of the Chinese market is huge.”
Expanding the reach of the Chinese language in Limerick and further introducing it into businesses here is going to “bring a level of prestige to Limerick”, she adds.
“I think we should see more and more businesses from China coming towards our region and our customers love Limerick and they love the offering from this city.”
Owner of Kilmartin Educational Services, Julie Kilmartin explains the course will also benefit Transition Year students heading into the Leaving Certificate.
“Mandarin has been added to the Leaving Cert curriculum and is now an exam subject, so we felt it was important that the language was addressed at the Transition Year stage to give students the best possible learning opportunities.”
The China Ready programme is aimed at educating Irish tourism businesses about the opportunities available from the Chinese tourist market and is part of Fáilte Ireland’s work to assist tourism businesses with market diversification and reduce the risks currently posed by Brexit.
China is one of the fastest-growing outbound travel markets in the world with numbers predicted to grow up to 200 million by 2020.