The announcement of Ireland’s first direct flights to mainland China a year on from my first ministerial visit to the country has been welcomed.
The route between Dublin and Beijing is a major boost to Ireland’s international connectivity.
The air link to China was a central part of my discussions with officials during my visit to the country last year.
Our trading and business links will strengthen as a result of the new route and it will also significantly increase tourism between both countries.
We’ve already seen a 46 per cent increase in visitors coming from China between 2016 and 2017 and we can look forward to even more growth from now on.
China is the largest outbound world travel market with 129 million Chinese people travelling overseas last year.
The new route will also boost Dublin Airport, which saw nearly 35 million passengers passing through the facility in 2017.
To cater for its growing traffic, a new runway for the airport is planned to open in 2020.
The first direct flights to China will be operated by Hainan Airlines. The service will begin on June 12.