Hainan Island, a province of China, is not a name to conjure with for many Irish people, although it has the honour of being the tropical paradise where Rosanna Davison was crowned Miss World back in 2003.
The island is also the focus of efforts by Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) to build its business in China. DIT is currently developing the Hainan International Tourism College (HITC) on the island with a local partner.
In addition to constructing the school, the investment company will also build a resort and a hotel which will be operated by a leading chain, and will act as a training facility for students.
When fully operational within the next few years, the college will have up to 5,000 students on a range of hospitality and culinary arts programmes.
With this in mind, DIT has opened an office in the city of Haikou on Hainan Island, to the south of mainland China.
DIT is currently working with the investment group China Aroma Investment Corporation to develop the college which is part of the central government’s 10-year plan to develop the island as an international tourist destination.
Attract to Dublin
"The DIT office in Haikou will play an important part in attracting students from this region to come to Dublin to study. There is also significant potential for Irish students coming here to Hainan as part of their studies,” said Dominic Dillane, head of the school of Hospitality Management Tourism, who is spearheading the HITC development within DIT.
The office will allow candidates to bypass education agents, who set students up with places at overseas universities.
While they are a crucial part of the process of setting people up with places at third-level colleges, many Chinese people like to have direct access to the institutions involved.
Xu Dongxue (26), from Lingao on the island, said that DIT has a good reputation.
"It’s a safe country and the people are very friendly. I’ve done my research on countries overseas,” said Xu, who did her primary degree in English literature in Dalian. “For me it’s very important to have direct communication.”
Ling Kaiye (20), from Hainan, is planning to study hotel management. “This is a great opportunity for me, to experience life overseas and get a great education,” she said.
Tourist destination
Hainan is a major tourist destination for Chinese visitors, and it has seen major development as a tourist site in the past few years.
The climate is similar to Thailand or Malaysia, but Chinese people don’t need to go through the often difficult process of getting a visa, so it is an extremely popular destination with domestic travellers.
The DIT launch took place during one of the busiest periods for the island, the Chinese New Year holiday. Hainan had more than 30 million tourist arrivals in 2011, and tourism revenue grew 25 per cent from the previous year to 32.2 billion yuan (€4 billion).
"Our decision to open this office here in Hainan demonstrates our commitment to building on our relationships in China but it is also a clear indication of our long-term commitment to our joint development with local partners,” said Prof Michael Devereux, dean of the DIT College of Sciences and Health.
SOURCE: irishtimes.com
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