Inaugural Chinese Student Society VIP Fam Trip to Brighton

There are around 130,000 students from mainland China and Hong Kong studying in the UK, making the UK one of the most popular countries in the world for overseas study. During their degrees, students explore beyond their university towns and share their experiences with their fellow students, and their friends and family back in China, primarily using social media. We were keen to find a way to engage this large group for the benefit of our tourism clients, and to leverage their activity on Chinese social media.

Many universities have a Chinese Student Society which provides a strong network for students and support during their time away from home. The Presidents of these societies have access to various communications platforms, including well-followed WeChat accounts, Weibo and the Society communication outlets. They also have great personal networks. We felt that these senior members of the Societies would be our prime influencers.

Last weekend, our inaugural Chinese Student Society VIP Fam Trip took place in Brighton & Hove. We worked with VisitBrighton to organise a fun-packed weekend for the Presidents and Vice-Presidents of Chinese Student Societies from five UK universities; Kings College London, Bournemouth University, University of the West of England, Lancaster University and the University of Birmingham. The students and their partners had a fantastic time exploring the city, eating out in restaurants such as the award-winning vegetarian restaurant, Terre à Terre, and the seafood restaurant, The Regency. They visited some of Brighton’s iconic sights such as the Royal Pavilion, the Palace Pier, Brighton Beach and the vintage shopping areas of the North Laine and The Lanes. As students, they also made the most of the nightlife of the city, enjoying live music, pubs, clubs and even a karaoke bar. All their experiences were photographed, photoshopped (as is common practice in China!) and shared through their Societies’ and their own social media networks and in online blogs.

Here’s what they got up to:

Friday

After arriving at the Old Ship Hotel, the group headed to the award-winning vegetarian restaurant, Terre à Terre for a meal hosted by Julia and Katie from VisitBrighton and Helena and Sara from China Travel Outbound. They were keen to know all about the city, its bars and clubs and, very importantly, where they could find the best vintage clothes shops. Map apps on their phones made it very easy for us to pin shops, bars and places of interest. After a delicious meal which they really enjoyed, the group continued on to the Mesmerist Pub to see a live band then on for a spot of karaoke at Jade.

Terre a Terre 2

Saturday

Next morning, the students were free to explore Brighton and its sights. They visited the Royal Pavilion where they marvelled at its Chinese-influenced décor, and enjoyed the arcades and rides on the iconic Palace Pier. Many of them also visited Sea Life, the world’s oldest operating aquarium. And, of course, shopping in the vintage North Laine, Lanes and Churchill Square were top of the list for others. In the evening, the group came back together to enjoy a meal at the ever-popular seafood restaurant, The Regency, before experiencing Brighton’s vibrant nightlife.

 

Collage 3

Sunday

After breakfast, a walk down the seafront then time to head home. However, the sun was shining and it was such a beautiful day that some abandoned their train timetables and stayed a few hours longer to make the most of the city.

If your city is interested in working with Chinese Student Societies to promote your hotels and attractions on Chinese social media, please contact us to discuss.

Brighton

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First ever Chinese Student Society VIP Fam Trip arrives in Brighton and Hove

The first ever VIP Fam Trip for senior members of the UK’s Chinese Student Societies takes place in Brighton and Hove this weekend.

Pier

The pilot project, organised by specialist PR and Marketing agency, China Travel Outbound, aims to raise the city’s profile within the Chinese student communities studying here in the UK, and with their friends and family in China. Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the Chinese Student Societies from five UK universities will enjoy a weekend as guests of VisitBrighton, sharing their experiences through their Societies’ social media networks, communication channels and through word of mouth with their fellow students. They will also be encouraged to give their own opinions of the attractions, hotels and restaurants they visit on China’s influential social media review sites, the Chinese equivalents of TripAdvisor.

There are around 130,000 students from mainland China and Hong Kong studying in the UK, making the UK one of the most popular countries in the world for overseas study. During their degrees, students explore the UK beyond their university towns, often accompanied by their parents or friends who take the opportunity to visit the UK during their studies. Chinese students are also excellent ambassadors for the UK, sharing their experiences with their friends back home using social media, both whilst they are here and upon their return to China.

Helena Beard, Managing Director of China Travel Outbound, said,

Whilst most of our PR and marketing campaigns are delivered in China, we have been keen to explore the opportunity offered by the Chinese students already in the UK. Chinese social media is very influential but it is difficult for UK destinations, hotels and attractions to achieve cut-through with limited budgets. By approaching the Presidents of the influential Chinese Societies as we would the media we hope to deliver positive social reach to highly targeted audiences in an accessible way.

Julia Gallagher, Head of Sales, VisitBrighton, said,

VisitBrighton is committed to targeting the Chinese market which is hugely important to the city, and the student market is one of the sectors we are keen to reach. Brighton is a natural choice for Chinese millennials seeking unique shopping experiences, delicious food and a vibrant cultural scene. We just need to raise our profile so they know we are here.’

Pavilion

Delegates from King’s College London, University of Birmingham, Lancaster University, Bournemouth University and the University of the West of England will be in Brighton 24th – 26th March ‘17. They will enjoy meals at the award-winning vegetarian restaurant, Terre à Terre, and Brighton’s ever-popular seafood restaurant, The Regency Restaurant. Also on the itinerary are visits to the Royal Pavilion, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, the iconic Palace Pier and the towering British Airways i360.

 

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Is Chinese New Year 2017 Set to Be the Biggest Ever?

Chinese New Year marks a time for celebration. And also, the time for travelling. To celebrate the holiday, the people of China are given a week off for the Chinese Lunar New Year Golden Week. This year, it runs from 27 January to 2 February. In the UK, our clients are preparing themselves for an influx of very welcome Chinese visitors all important to fill  beds at this off-peak time of year. But how big can we expect Chinese New Year to be this year?

To get an idea, we’ve looked at Chinese visitor numbers of previous years, the changing travel and economic landscape of the UK in recent times, and forecasts for 2017. But let’s start with past years.

2015-2016

2015 was a big year for Chinese visitors to the UK; According to VisitBritain, 270,000 people were welcomed, up by 46% from 2014. Collectively, they spent £586 million that year here in the UK, claiming a spot in the UK’s top 10 inbound markets for spending. It’s no surprise then that, according to travel intelligence company ForwardKeys, the UK ranked 4th place in the list of European destinations for Chinese travellers.

Fast forward to 2016 and Chinese visitors to the UK during Chinese New Year were up again. Not all that surprising since the estimated total number of 2016 Chinese New Year journeys reached a whopping 2.91 billion. Yet 2016 was also characterised by widespread fear of terrorism for much of Europe, resulting in a Europe-wide fall of 7.4% in visitor numbers. Perhaps fuelled by safety concerns around France and Germany, London was up by 7.8% and Manchester by 27%.

Britain’s Travel and Economic Landscape

Why do we think 2017 could be the UK’s biggest ever Chinese New Year? First, if you cut back to this time last year, Brexit seemed highly unlikely. From January to June 2016, the British Pound to Chinese Yuan averaged between 9.3 and 9.4. Now? The Pound to Yuan average is around 8.5. The combination of a weak pound and a large Chinese luxury market surely means that UK shopping has never been more desirable. At least Beiwei 55, a tour operator specialising in the Chinese market to the UK, thinks so. It says the UK is becoming an increasingly affordable destination for Chinese visitors which may be why last year’s summer season saw a 40% increase in Chinese tourist numbers. Cheaper luxury products and the time to buy them are a winning combination, making Golden Week the perfect time for the Chinese to visit the UK.

Not only that but access to Britain has never been easier. Over the past year, the number of direct flights between the two countries has increased. Summer 2017 will see Hainan Airlines service new direct routes to London from Shenzhen, Chengdu, Xi’an, Qingdao and Changsha. This is in addition to their previously launched direct flight from Beijing to Manchester. Ease of travel combined with a cheap holiday destination should encourage Chinese tourists to travel to the UK and send those visitor numbers soaring. Hopefully 2017 will reflect this and be the biggest year for Chinese New Year in the UK yet.

Chinese New Year 2017

Recent studies are showing signs of this already. EChinanews forecasts that the number of total journeys (including domestic) predicted to be made for 2017’s Chinese New Year is 3 billion, a 0.9 billion rise from 2016.

ForwardKeys study also shows positive UK inbound statistics for Chinese New Year 2017. Compared to the same time last year, bookings to Europe are ahead by 68.5% with the UK actually up by 88%. A phenomenal figure! The UK now ranks in 2nd place for Chinese visitors to Europe; a nice 2-place climb from 2015. This week, VisitBritain announced that the number of Chinese visitors in January is up a whopping 80% compared to last January, with bookings focused around the Chinese New Year at the end of the month. As Jo Leslie, VisitBritain, was quoted in the Evening Standard this week, ‘Chinese tourists in London spend twice as long as they do in mainland Europe, spend twice as much money and the numbers are growing at twice the rate.’ London is putting on a huge spectacle with parades, markets and entertainment to celebrate Chinese culture, maintaining its position as one of the most exciting places to celebrate Chinese New Year outside Asia.

With so much going on, in the economy, the market and the fantastic celebrations in London and beyond, Britain can be very optimistic that the Chinese New Year and, indeed, the rest of the Year of the Rooster, will be the biggest yet for Chinese visitors.

 

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Chinese Lantern Festivals Light Up The UK

Lantern festivals and events are becoming more and more popular in the UK. We take a look at why that might be and the significance of lanterns to the Chinese.

Legend of the Lantern

What are lanterns? Where did they come from? How did they originate?  Obviously, lanterns are a light source that were previously used for illuminating spaces such as entranceways. They’re made with many materials but the most common ones in ancient China were paper and silk, perhaps with a wood or bamboo frame. And believe it or not, fireflies were also sometimes caught to be used as short-term lanterns.

So, they’re just used as light sources? Not entirely.

The tale goes like this. Once upon a time, sometime in 230 BC China, after Emperor Ming got a hold of Hindu scriptures he had a great temple built. He placed the scriptures and many paper lanterns in this temple as a way to symbolise the Buddha’s power. Paper lanterns have stood the test of time and still exist to this day bringing with them a host of other connotations, such as joy, celebration, good fortune and longevity; an object full of positive symbolism. It’s no wonder that people still use them.

So, how about sky lanterns? Well, this story begins in 3 BC China with historic figure Zhuge Liang. Liang was also known as Kongming so for the purposes of this story we’ll stick to Kongming. Kongming first used sky lanterns as a way to communicate with his troops. He found himself in a bad situation and needed to summon help against the enemy. Sky lanterns served their purpose in this situation and, funnily enough, this is how they obtained their alternative name ‘Kongming lanterns’.

Lighting the Festivals

If I said “Chinese lanterns” now, what would you think of? Would you think of either of these tales? I doubt it. Unless you’ve taken an extensive course in lantern history, in which case I applaud you.

But no, nowadays most people traditionally associate them with Chinese festivals.

Which festivals you ask? Number one: the Ghost Festival where people place lotus-shaped lanterns in rivers which are supposed to act as symbolic guides for their ancestors. Number two: the Lantern Festival where the lighting of many lanterns takes place to signal the lunar New Year celebration’s last day. Number three: the Mid-Autumn Festival where lanterns, which symbolise the sun and light, are used to celebrate the end of the harvest. And the last use, whilst not a festival, sees children take lanterns to temples to solve riddles on them in celebration of Chinese New Year.

West for the Winter

As was previously stated, lanterns are becoming more and more popular, so much so that the UK has seen a growth in lantern festivals.

Longleat’s Festival of Light is one of the UK’s earliest, and Europe’s largest, Chinese lantern festival, which transforms the Safari Park into a winter wonderland every year. Incredible, giant lanterns in all shapes and sizes can be seen there throughout the month of December into early January. As it’s a safari park, many of the lanterns come in animal form making it a spectacle to remember. The Magical Lantern Festival is another large Chinese festival making its debut in Roundhay Park, Leeds this year. Hosted in Europe’s largest city park, visitors can follow a trail around Roundhay Park and witness some of the most artistic and beautifully constructed lantern installations outside of China; lanterns which represent and celebrate Christmas, as well as Chinese culture and heritage.

What’s the reason for this growth in popularity? Well, a number of reasons could play into this. For the 380,000 Chinese people already living in the UK, it’s a reminder of their home and culture; a celebration of what’s important to them. China also provides one of the biggest numbers of new immigrants to the UK, with 40,000 Chinese migrants in 2014. Chinese lantern festivals would then have the purpose of welcoming and accommodating new migrants to their new home, providing them with a sense of comfort. The biggest reason, perhaps, may be to do with the British fascination for pretty lanterns, and the positive impact they bring for tourism. In the wintertime, stately homes and their gardens are probably not at their best; it’s cold, often wet and plants and shrubs lack colour. So what do they do to combat this? They usually hold ‘festive’ events that prominently feature lanterns and fairy lights, maybe with some ‘Christmas mulled wine’ or ‘winter hot chocolate’ included, in an effort to appeal to visitors. The beauty of the lanterns is a big draw as we move towards Christmas. We like to take festive-looking pictures and create magical moments with our family and, therefore, for the tourism industry, lanterns are great money-spinners. Also, the China outbound tourism market to Britain is growing with visits from China increasing 46% in 2015, making winter lantern events a great way to also accommodate to this growing market.

Some of the UK’s winter lantern events include Christmas at Kew, a winter trail throughout lantern-lit gardens, which is now in its fourth year. A botanical after dark experience awaits visitors; an experience boasting 60,000 patterned lights in the Tunnel of Lights. Similarly, Glow Wild at Wakehurst also offers a lantern-lit journey through the grounds and gardens of a spectacular Elizabethan mansion. As well as marvelling at the lanterns, visitors are able to absorb the architectural beauty of the mansion whilst enjoying marshmallows and hot chocolate. Events like these are found around the UK, each one displaying stunning light installations; another use it would seem for the historic Chinese lantern.

A beautiful tradition and, some would say, the more lanterns the better.

 

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The Chinese want to eat Chinese, right?

Dim sum, fish and chips or something entirely different – what would a Chinese traveller choose? That might sound like a silly question, but promoting a business efficiently to the rising Chinese outbound travel market requires consideration of Chinese tourists’ preferences and the barriers to sale. Many businesses have already caught on to this, with places like Bicester Village introducing Mandarin guides and signs to take away language barriers that may dishearten travellers. Hilton has introduced the Huanying Program to many of their hotels, which provides Chinese customers with a more personalised stay by including a larger range of traditionally Chinese breakfast options, adding jasmine tea to the guest rooms, and more.

While shopping evidently has a large appeal to Chinese tourists, food and quality meals are also important considerations. When it comes to hospitality, tea and coffee-making facilities rank the highest in importance of what they want in their hotel rooms. A Chinese traveller spends 59% of his/her budget (excluding accommodation) on food. Clearly, food is big business.  To help you market to this, we had a look at some food preferences amongst Chinese tourists.

So, which is it? Dim sum or fish and chips?

Actually, it’s oysters. At least that’s what the Chinese tour operators we hosted recently in Brighton seemed to favour when we took them to The Regency Restaurant. Besides plates and plates of oysters, other popular dishes included lobster, crab salad and mussels. Not only does this imply that seafood has great appeal for a nation with distant coastlines, it also shows a desire to indulge in foods beyond Chinese tradition.

Travellers want to experience the local cuisine for at least one of their daily meals.

Young Chinese tourists do indeed like to try the local cuisines of their chosen travel destination, just as our guests enjoyed seafood in Brighton. In fact, 34% of Chinese travellers prefer “independent hotels with local flavours,” again revealing a desire to try new food. In fact, “travellers want to experience the local cuisine for at least one of their daily meals.” What’s more, trying local cuisine has become proof of a traveller’s unique experiences abroad, as it is deemed “fashionable and desirable” for tourists to indulge in food that differs from that which they are accustomed to in China. Since President Xi Jinping shared a fish and chip supper with David Cameron at the British PM’s local pub, the popularity of this traditional seaside plate has grown exponentially with Chinese visitors to the UK.

Whilst there is a growing interest in trying new foods, there are a few rules which do still ring true for the majority. Hot drinks are more popular, especially in the winter. Our Chinese interns choose a cup of hot rather than cold water for the office drinks round, and hot breakfasts are always chosen by our team when they come to London from Beijing. Dairy products are not widely consumed; when serving tea or coffee, do not add the milk, but offer it on the side. Lamb is another favourite, and spicy flavours go down well, but these don’t have to be Chinese. Indian, Thai and Indonesian food are all popular.

While the desire to try local food is certainly prominent amongst younger Chinese travellers, the duration of a visitor’s stay, and their age, may change this. Those who stay abroad longer often miss the familiarity of Chinese food, and may resort back to it. Although tasting local foods is a praised experience, the comfort of home will often come beckoning. Similarly, travellers over the age of 35 will often prefer familiarity over new experiences, and are more likely to stick to traditional Chinese dishes.

Variety, variety, variety! (And a Mandarin menu might help too).

So what does all this mean? It means variety, and providing Chinese tourists with both local dishes and with a range of Asian-style foods for when they simply want a “taste of home.” If you cater more commonly to youth, then a selection of local dishes will do, but if you have older guests, then remember to include some recognisable dishes.

Another important, practical consideration is accessibility. Looking at a long menu written in English with a huge selection of different dishes (sometimes with ‘clever’ names), can be completely overwhelming. Having a Mandarin menu available is definitely favourable and it may be sensible to select a few dishes to present in Chinese as the ‘dishes most popular with our Chinese guests’. This allows the guest to choose something they know they will enjoy, whilst also saving any risk of losing ‘face’ by ordering a bizarre combination by mistake. It is also important to accept China Union Pay, because Chinese tourists “increasingly wish to use the same payment methods overseas as they do at home.” Essentially, both variety and accessibility are key watch words for marketing your hotel or restaurant to Chinese tourists.

To find out more about how you can appeal to Chinese tourists and their food preferences, contact us now for a no obligation chat. For more news and views on the Chinese tourism scene, please read our other articles or sign up to receive our newsletters.

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Royal Museums Greenwich appoints China Travel Outbound to handle Chinese promotional campaign

Following a competitive pitch, Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG) has appointed specialist Chinese travel PR and representation agency, China Travel Outbound, to deliver its first ever promotional programme in China.

Chinese tourists already account for 4% of visits to the Royal Observatory, making China one of the key international markets for the museum. China Travel Outbound has been tasked with driving significant growth in Chinese visitors to the Royal Observatory and with developing stories and key selling points to build Chinese visitation to the other three museums within RMG; the National Maritime Museum, the Queen’s House and the Cutty Sark.

The Chinese campaign will include a sales mission to visit key Chinese travel agents and tour operators, trade communications, and a Public Relations campaign in mainland China. Promotional literature and visitor information will also be translated into Mandarin Chinese.

Helena Beard, Managing Director, China Travel Outbound, said,

The Royal Museums of Greenwich are prestigious London attractions and we are delighted to be working with these world-famous brands. With the right promotional support, we believe there is a great opportunity for RMG to grow its Chinese visitor figures significantly across the museum portfolio.’

Amy O’Donovan, Travel Trade Marketing Manager, Royal Museums Greenwich said,

‘We were looking for an agency with the skills, experience and contacts to help us enter this complicated market. China Travel Outbound fully understood our needs and offered an insight-driven, realistic and sustainable plan of work which we can put into action simply and immediately.’

For further information about China Travel Outbound, please visit www.chinatraveloutbound.com

For further information about Royal Museums Greenwich, please visit www.rmg.co.uk

 

Chinese students in the UK: a missed tourism opportunity?

China is the world’s biggest source of international students and it’s estimated that nearly 1 million Chinese are currently studying overseas.  Formerly the preserve of the elite – President Li Xinping’s own daughter studied at Harvard – overseas study is increasingly affordable to China’s growing middle class, who may make considerable sacrifices to grant their only child a foreign university education.  1 in 6 overseas students is Chinese, and yet the tourism potential of this group in the UK has hardly begun to be explored.

It’s estimated that nearly 1 million Chinese are currently studying abroad, and China’s Ministry of Education reports that over 500,000 Chinese went overseas to study in 2015 alone.  In the same year the 58,000 Chinese enrolling for their first year at UK universities outnumbered the total number of students from the 27 countries of the EU doing the same.  And while they are usually embarking upon their overseas adventure entirely independently, a few are even accompanied by their (‘tiger’) mothers in an intercontinental version of helicopter parenting.

Chinese overseas students are fueling a property boom too.  In some areas of California, the majority of new-build housing is bought by Chinese, and total Chinese real estate purchases in the USA were valued at US$110bn in 2015. Whispers abound that London’s new build luxury housing stock is being snapped up by Chinese purchasers – and while that may be the case, only one London university makes the top 10 by Chinese student numbers.

The educational and cultural lure of Liverpool and Manchester

Chinese students make up around 4% of the student body in the UK.  A strong academic tradition and established university system combine with history and Royal glamour to tempt Chinese undergraduates to the Land of Fish and Chips.  Perennial favourite Sherlock Holmes plays a part too, not least because his latest impersonator Curly Foo (as Benedict Cumberbatch is known in Mandarin) sits squarely within the tradition of the English gentleman.

The perhaps surprising geographical spread of Chinese students in the UK sees a preference for universities in the Midlands and the North, with the universities of Liverpool and Manchester the top draws. The capital has only one representative, University College of London, in the top 10 by number of Chinese students.

A missed tourism opportunity?

Little attention so far has been paid to the significant tourism opportunity posed by Chinese students studying in the UK. This is perhaps surprising given their numbers, average length of stay of 2-4 years and curiosity to visit attractions in their host country.  We asked Mei Si, a student at Brighton University, for her insight into UK-based Chinese students’ travel.

One potentially lucrative aspect of Chinese students’ travel is the trip made by their parents for graduation, which usually takes place in the June to July or December to January period. This is the most likely time for Chinese parents to visit their offspring studying overseas and they’re keen to see the sights of the UK, on trips which can last from a few days to a couple of months. The Chinese student organises and books the trip which is likely to include some traditional sights such as Big Ben and luxury shops, but there is also space for other destinations – providing the Chinese student is aware of them.

Chinese students, like their home-based counterparts, are greatly influenced by reviews and recommendations in Chinese media and social media. Reaching Chinese students, even once in the UK, depends on cultivating positive coverage in Chinese media. The unexpected success of Brighton’s Regency Seafood Restaurant underlines the enormous returns which can come from just one celebrity endorsement in China, and small product adaptations, for instance Mandarin signage, information and audioguides, can make a big difference when it comes to garnering a following in China.

We can help to promote your product in China and raise your profile on social media. Contact us for a chat – we’d love to hear from you.

 

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An insight into the travel of Chinese students living in the UK

Guest blog by Mei Si, a Chinese student at the University of Brighton.

Do parents visit during the year?

June – July, and December – January are the hot seasons for Chinese parents to visit their children’s graduation ceremonies. Chinese parents are more likely to visit the UK only once in their time at university for their children’s graduation ceremony. They normally stay around few days to two months. It depends on their work time.

How do Chinese students book their flight to their UK Universities?

There are two main ways for Chinese students to book their flights to their Universities: Chinese travel agencies and airlines. Baidu, tuniu and qyer are some of the most popular travel agencies in China, although there are a wide range of international travel agency websites in the market. Chinese students, however seem more comfortable to use the websites they are familiar with.

Do they stay in hotels booked from China? What do they do when they get to UK?

When it comes to travel abroad, Chinese parents tend to rely on their children about organising travel plan because of the language barrier and the cultural differences between China and the UK. Chinese students would usually organise hotels, flights as well as travel plans for their parents on Chinese travel agency websites. These websites occasionally offer some fixed package deals to attract customers e.g. a 14 day UK trip including around tickets, 13 night hotels and some UK attractions’ discount tickets.

In addition, one of the features of these websites are blogs of travellers who share their unique travel plans about where they shop, eat and visit in the UK. Also, there are some recommendations about hotels and flights. It can give the consumers some ideas about where to bring their parents to visit.

It is a must to visit all the attractions and main shopping centres in the UK (Big Ben, London Bridge, British Museum, Oxbridge Universities, Oxford Bicester Village, London Burberry outlet etc) but always with their children. Parents who have children studying in the UK would definitely visit.

Considerations when choosing places to visit

When considering places, price is not the most important factor. Reviews and recommendations in Chinese have far greater reach.

In terms of eating out, Chinese families visiting would often eat from Chinese restaurants, as many do not like the typical dishes served, especially the cold dishes, and would rather eat familiar foods.

Despite this, visiting Chinese families would often try food recommended in blogs and reports, including famous establishments like Burger & Lobster, Duck & Waffle, both in London and Riddle & Finns in Brighton.

In conclusion, it seems that Chinese students’ preferences and advice from Chinese travel agencies’ blogs are the main factors which influence Chinese parents’ travel plans in the UK.

 

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First direct flight from Manchester to mainland China takes off

The first direct flights from the North to China launched today with the departure of Hainan Airlines’ inaugural Manchester to Beijing flight. Manchester becomes the only British airport outside London to have scheduled non-stop flights to China. The economic benefit to the UK is expected to be at least £250m, with 2/3 of this going directly to the Northern economy in the form of increased jobs, economic activity and tourism.

Building on North – China links

The flights will provide a more convenient route for the 100,000 people already travelling between the North of England and Beijing every year.  Annual journey time savings of £5m are expected to be made by eliminating the inconvenience of changing ‘planes.

Growing tourism opportunities for the North

The connections will boost Northern-Chinese business links as well as growing tourism opportunities.  China became the world’s largest source of overseas tourism in 2012 and has experienced double digit growth every year since then. With over 120 million Chinese travelling overseas last year and Chinese tourists acclaimed as the world’s biggest spenders while on holiday, the benefits to the regional tourism economy are potentially huge, especially in attracting the growing group of independent Chinese travellers.

Northern Powerhouse

Announced by Chinese President Xi Jingping during his State visit to the UK in October last year, the flights support the UK’s Northern Powerhouse.  Other planned transport and infrastructure projects due to boost the Northern Powerhouse’s connections include the Leeds-Manchester high-speed rail link and the upgrade of the M62 to 4 lanes between Leeds and Manchester.

Photo credit : www.photoeverywhere.co.uk