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Northern Ireland provides backdrop for Chinese reality TV show

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Some of Northern Ireland’s top tourist attractions and spectacular scenery were seen by more than 400 million Chinese people yesterday, on one of the world’s biggest reality TV shows – I, Supermodel (China’s version of America’s Next Top Model).

Two and a half episodes of I, Supermodel were filmed in Northern Ireland last autumn. The final episode filmed here was broadcast yesterday (7 January) in China, on Hubei Satellite TV; and in Great Britain on Propeller TV, shown via Sky TV and aimed specifically at the Chinese community living there. Previous episodes filmed here aired on 24 and 31 December. I, Supermodel is also streamed on the iQIYI online platform in China. In all, each episode was seen by approximately 410 million people, including fans in China and about 25 other countries around the world.

The episodes filmed in Northern Ireland saw the Chinese model contestants battle it out at places like Titanic Belfast (where the semi-final was filmed), Belfast City Hall, Mount Stewart, Donaghadee and Dunluce Castle, in a bid to win a top modelling contract. Tourism Ireland helped with itinerary suggestions in advance, as well as travel arrangements from London to Belfast for the show’s models, presenters, judges and crew.

A key element of Tourism Ireland’s promotional activity in China, to grow our share of this rapidly-growing tourism market, involves working with TV crews and lifestyle media, to raise awareness about Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland.
Amanda Burns, Tourism Ireland’s manager for Asia, said: “With an audience of more than 400 million, ‘I, Supermodel’ is the kind of publicity that money simply could not buy. It was a fun and really different way to showcase Belfast, Northern Ireland and some of our top visitor attractions to a massive global audience of potential Chinese holidaymakers. Viewers are typically in the 20-30 year age group and like to travel.

“TV and film are recognised as strong influencers on travellers everywhere, with up to 35% of people being impacted in their choice of destination by what they see on screen. Tourism Ireland regularly works with overseas TV and production companies to facilitate the making of travel and lifestyle programmes, to get positive exposure for Northern Ireland around the world.”

China is an important emerging travel market and one that Tourism Ireland is committed to growing over the coming years. Tourism Ireland aims to grow the number of Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland to 50,000 per year, by 2017. It has offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. As well as working closely with Chinese media, the organisation also undertakes co-operative promotions with key partners – including airlines and the travel trade.

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