The owners of Fota Island Resort the Kang family are reportedly set to invest millions in the having bought the Island resort earlier this summer for around €20m from Nama.
The family already have a number of hotels in China and were frequent visitors to Ireland before they decided to invest in Fota.
Fota Island Resort director Micheal Cronin has been working with the Kang family since 2001 when he began importing goods from China.
“They were always looking at opportunities in the hotel sector. They have hotels in Shanghai and Beijing themselves. They felt that they would like to have that kind of replica here in Ireland. That’s when we met up with the boys from Fota,” he said.
The Kang family havealready set about investing in the five-star resort, initially concentrating on developing the grounds and finishing about 50 remaining holiday homes.
Fota Island Resort chief executive Jonathan Woods said they will be adding a destination restaurant as a priority, as well as an outdoor pursuits-style project.
He added that they are also planning on bringing an international golf competition to Fota.
Mr Cronin said: “There is huge potential. There were 47,000 Chinese people visited Ireland last year and so they reckon that more than one million people leave China on holidays every year and over.
“A phenomenal amount of those would love to come to Ireland but know nothing about Ireland. It is an untapped markets, and we’ve found that the visa situation is starting to ease up now for the tourism situation.”
The Kang family are planning on using their hotel business in China to draw visitors to Fota Island. They already have a large customer base and plan to bypass travel agents, selling trips to Ireland directly to existing customers.
“They have a huge membership of their hotel circle in Beijing and Shanghai, and we would be selling through that,” Mr Woods said.
The hotel has already benefited from their new owners, with the number of customers from China increasing in the short space of time that they have been involved.
Mr Cronin dismissed any fears that the Kang family were trying to pick up a distressed asset and flip it quickly. He said the family will be holding on to the property forever.
“They are in this long term, they intend to keep Fota forever, It’s their b Source: The Irish Examiner