2015 saw China move into the UK’s top 10 most valuable inbound tourism markets, propelled by an increase of visits vs. 2014 of +47% and an increase of spend of +18%. This huge increase reflects an underlying growth trend over the last decade: the number of Chinese tourists coming to the UK has more than doubled since 2006 while total spend has multiplied by more than 5 times.
Long known to be the highest-spending global travellers, Chinese tourists’ total spend in the UK last year was £586m. This is +18% y-on-y and the Chinese account for nearly ¼ of all tourist spend in the UK. VisitBritain’s stats show that every 22 additional Chinese visitors to the UK support an additional job in tourism.
And Chinese holidaymakers to the UK are not just travelling to London. While 45% of these visits were to the capital, 38% of Chinese tourists went to the rest of England. Popular activities of Chinese tourists in the UK include visiting a museum, visiting parks and gardens and shopping.
The largest outbound travel market in the world
China is now the largest outbound travel market in the world with over 120m Chinese travelling overseas annually, and this number is forecast to reach 220m by 2020. And other countries are welcoming a significant chunk of this outbound growth too. China now makes up the 2nd largest source of inbound tourists to Australia, and 1 in 4 tourists visiting Thailand is Chinese. In Europe, the Tyrol has long targeted Chinese visitors and Bordeaux is offering its website, brochures and a presentation DVD of the city in Mandarin to attract its share of China’s growing outbound wine tourism.
There are opportunities for every kind of destination and attraction in this market and independent travel is the fastest growing segment. It’s not just about group travel to London for the top tourist sites and luxury shopping any longer. Clean air, natural beauty and the countryside are proving strong draws for today’s Chinese tourist, and they’re just as likely to enjoy sampling a traditional cream tea in a country house hotel as touring London’s traditional sights behind a flag-carrying tour guide.
How the UK is attracting Chinese tourists
Factors driving the success of the UK in attracting Chinese tourists include strong marketing campaigns by VisitBritain. 2015’s GREAT names for GREAT Britain campaign asked Chinese people to give Chinese names to over 101 attractions and places in the UK. A launch video appeared outdoors, in cinemas and taxis and a 10-week Weibo and WeChat campaign invited naming suggestions. 27 million Chinese watched the launch video and the social media posts were viewed over 300m times on Weibo alone. Quirky results and much media coverage ensued. The Highland Games are now known to the Chinese as ‘special skirt party’ and the Cerne Abbas Giant is ‘big white streaker’. Benedict Cumberbatch will no doubt be delighted to be greeted as ‘Curly Fu’ on his next visit to Beijing!
VisitBritain’s continuing focus on China as a growing inbound market promises to attract rising numbers of Chinese travellers to the UK over the next few years. Contact us now for a no-obligation chat about how you can secure your share of these valuable inbound holidaymakers.
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