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From Louisburgh to Shanghai

Living

STUNNING SETTING Glen Keen is one of the largest farms in Ireland’s agri-tourism offering. Over 1,400 acres in size, this family-owned sheep farm’s commonage footprint extends to over 5,500 acres, which is larger than some national parks.

Ciara Moynihan

What do Game of Thrones and a Louisburgh sheep farm have in common? Not much you might say. Unlike the former, Louisburgh is thankfully not exactly famed for blood-soaked battles, summary beheadings and witchcraft. Still, a link between the two was recently forged on the other side of the world.   
Glen Keen Sheep Farm and Visitor Attraction and Game of Thrones Winterfell Tours Northern Ireland were the only two invited trade visitors to represent the island of Ireland at the World Bridge Tourism in Shanghai, China, from May 9 to 12, as part of the International Tourism Trade Show, ITB China 2017.
The owners of the visitor attraction and Farm and the staff of its restaurant/tea room and antiques-and-gift shop take pride in offering a warm, heartfelt welcome – it has certainly paid off.
Glen Keen Farm has rapidly become a favourite destination for both Clew Bay residents and visitors from further afield. Now entering its third full season of business, the farm has an impressive track record of success in developing its tour-bus trade throughout Europe and North America, winning the coveted gold quality awards of excellence from CIE tours International for the last two consecutive years.

Immersion
Visitors to Glen Keen are given the chance to immerse themselves in country life through one or more of the many of farm-based activities, including sheep-dog herding, traditional turf harvesting, hill walking, wool spinning, Irish dance, traditional music …  or just relaxing with a glass of wine while listening to the gentle flow of the Carrowniskey river, there is something unique for everyone.
Business owners Catherine O’Grady-Powers and Jim Powers were delighted to be selected for the the global tourism event. “We are both excited and honoured to be one of 100 European companies chosen to attend the World Bridge Tourism event in Shanghai, China in May 2017. The West of Ireland has so much to offer the incoming visitor.
“We at Glenkeen Farm are proud to showcase the best of Ireland and County Mayo in terms of quality of our tourism products, services, trade and industry with the intent of building relations to last generations.
“We have built our business on and truly believe the Wild Atlantic Way and County Mayo is where traditional Ireland stands strong.”
China is the fastest-growing source market for tourism and the world’s largest travel market in terms of expenditure exceeding that of the US and Germany. The average expenditure of a Chinese visitor on a trip in the EU is €2,800, or €8,400 per family of three. The length of stay is also longer for Chinese visitors, with an average European holiday lasting more than ten nights.
Hopes are that the Britain and Ireland shared visa programme will make it easier for Chinese nationals to visit both countries on just one visa, simplifying the visa application process for visitors.  
While in China, Catherine and Jim highlighted the ways in which Co Mayo is a perfect destination for Chinese visitors, offering tradition, excitement, adventure, romance and value through tourism, trade and industry.
The timing is perfect too, as both countries look forward to 2018, which the European Travel Commission has designated the ‘EU-China Year for Tourism’.  “We are extremely grateful to Mayo County Council, Fota Island Resort, Cork, Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland for their tremendous support for this fantastic opportunity for the West of Ireland,” said Catherine and Jim.

World Bridge Tourism is a project supported by the European Union, in order to increase the flow of visitors from China to the EU. For more information visit www.ITB-China.com and www.glenkeenfarm.com.