British Airways i360 appoints China Travel Outbound to manage Chinese marketing campaign

British Airways i360 has appointed specialist Chinese travel PR and representation agency, China Travel Outbound, to promote Brighton & Hove’s best views to the Chinese market.

The 530ft viewing tower is the highest on the South Coast and welcomes over 300,000 visitors per year from the UK and all over the world. China Travel Outbound has been tasked with improving the profile of the attraction on Chinese travel platforms, and delivering content online through Chinese social media.  This activity will augment and complement the work already being delivered by the agency in China for VisitBrighton.

The agency has also been asked to explore ways to connect more effectively with the growing Chinese student population attending the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton.

Helena Beard, Managing Director, China Travel Outbound, said, ‘Brighton’s popularity in China is on the rise, with its huge appeal for millennials, FIT travelers, families and the buoyant international student market. British Airways i360 is the city’s most visited paid attraction and it is very important that its Chinese profile reflects that position. Our goal is that every Chinese tourist visiting the South Coast should have a flight on BA i360 on their itinerary.’

Anna Prior, Head of Marketing, British Airways i360 said: ‘As part of our international marketing campaign we are keen to increase the awareness of BAi360 and Brighton in the Chinese market. We have already welcomed many Chinese visitors to the attraction, but we know the market has great potential. We’re excited to have appointed China Travel Outbound; its expertise in the Chinese tourism market will provide us with the in-depth knowledge and promotion we require’.

For further information about China Travel Outbound, please visit

For further information about British Airways i360, please visit

Is the rise of Chinese travel to the UK unstoppable?

It’s hardly a secret that Chinese tourists stay longer (twice as long) and spend more (3½ times more) than the average visitor to the UK. This long-staying, high-spending market is moving up every tourism provider’s priority list as the value of China’s growing outbound travel market – which already stood at 120 million in 2016 – becomes abundantly clear.

Chinese tourism to the UK increased by +10% in Q4 2016 – and this after a record-breaking 2015. Early indications point to another very healthy year in 2017: May saw an increase of 31% of bookings by Chinese tour operators to London, while the capital’s luxury quarter saw a 39% increase in tax-free shopping for designer clothes, handbags and jewellery in the same period.

Is the rise of Chinese travel to the UK unstoppable? There are plenty of reasons to think so…

The Chinese are flush with hidden money and they’re ready to travel

It turns out that the Chinese travelling middle classes have even more money to spend than the headlines suggest. The government-backed Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing recently declared that that estimates of household income have undervalued real income by up to 20% through omitting to measure household investments. And we can expect plenty of that income to be spent on travel; a recent report by Sabre found that 90% of Chinese travellers expect to travel more often in the future.

Travel is increasingly the norm and an expected activity for Chinese, which means not just more Chinese travelling, but an increasingly independent, experience-seeking market in search of destinations, hotels, visitor attractions and activities which will genuinely differentiate their holiday from the norm.

The revolutionary rise in independent travel

As new waves of Chinese outbound tourists take to the skies, independent travel is taking off too, especially amongst Chinese millennials. By some measures, around 40% of Chinese outbound tourists travel independently. English-speaking countries are naturally-preferred long-haul destinations since they present fewer language challenges than other nations.

Self-drive tourism, camping & caravanning, and adventure travel are all trending travel segments in China, helping to distribute Chinese tourists and their largesse more widely in destination nations.

The Chinese love spending money in the UK

Chinese visitors to the UK spend £2,174 on average during their stay – more than 3 ½ times more than the average tourist. They spend twice as much time in the UK as the average tourist too – averaging 15 nights vs the average 8 nights.

Encouraging even more spend in the UK is the proliferation of Chinese payment options including UnionPay. The heavyweight retail early adopters long ago proved the value of accepting UnionPay. Harrods introduced 75 China UnionPay terminals in 2011 and has since seen an increase in sales to Chinese tourists of +40%; by 2015, Harrods took £1 for every £5 spent by Chinese tourists in the UK. In 2011, the Ritz became the first London hotel to install China UnionPay terminals, a pioneering move which paid off handsomely with a 17% increase in Chinese guests and 25% rise in spending.

The Royal Observatory Greenwich’s average sale in the shop via UnionPay is 3.7 times higher than the average.

Brexit and the increasing strength of the renminbi

Record numbers of overseas tourists visited the UK in April as the fall in sterling made the UK very good value – a positive Brexit side-effect for inbound tourism. The UK is already a particularly attractive destination for the Chinese to spend their holiday money; Chinese visitors to London spend twice as much time and twice as much money as they do in mainland Europe, greatly benefitting the capital’s luxury goods sellers. So continuing uncertainty surrounding Brexit may actually offer a continuing positive pull to Chinese tourists.

Even Brexit itself seems unlikely to be a deterrent to Chinese tourists visiting, with no new visa requirements since the UK is already outside the Schengen visa zone.

The powerful allure of the UK

VisitBritain has invested heavily in China over recent years. The GREAT names for GREAT Britain campaign in 2014 generated 30 million views of the campaign video and 2 million visits to the campaign website – as well as such memorable monikers as ‘Big White Streaker’ (for the Cerne Abbas Giant) and ‘The Strong-man Skirt Party’ (for the Highland Games). VisitBritain’s recent +56partnership with Alitrip, Alibaba Group’s tourism arm, has created a virtual British marketplace to showcase UK tourist offerings and great British experiences and destinations to Chinese consumers.

And VisitBritain is building on a very strong base of traveller interest. The Chinese rate “a rich and interesting heritage and history” very highly as a travel motivation and this is one of many areas in which the UK excels. “Romance” and “the beauty of the landscape” also feature highly both in Chinese motivations for travel and as qualities which the Chinese ascribe to the UK. And there are plenty of current British qualities are tempting the Chinese to these shores, from the Royal Family, Downton Abbey and Premier League football to designer shopping and Harry Potter. Not to mention the apparently irresistible charm of Curly Fu and Peanut.

The early, concerted and continuing promotion of the UK in China by VisitBritain has brilliantly built and consolidated the UK’s position as an aspirational destination for Chinese travellers.

Chinese friendliness is on the up in the UK

TripAdvisor China’s 2016 survey found that the UK was the most-researched European country. And the world’s most valuable tourists have plenty of reasons to make the UK their European destination of choice. Britain is increasingly welcoming to the Chinese, partly thanks to Visit Britain’s Great China Welcome initiative which has encouraged many UK destinations, hotels, visitor attractions and shops to adopt Chinese-friendly products and service.

Many London visitor attractions, including the Houses of Parliament, now offer audio guides in Mandarin, and Mandarin audio guides make up 50% of the total hired at the British Museum. Increasing numbers of Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking tour guides and shop assistants are evident, especially in London, and organisations from Great Western Railway to The Globe are undertaking Chinese-specific marketing and promotion initiatives to encourage visitors from the Middle Kingdom.

The future of Chinese travel to the UK

A progressively more Chinese-friendly UK with increasing recognition of the value of Chinese tourists is perfectly poised to keep a lion’s share of the world’s largest outbound market. And while recent terrorist incidents hardly provide the ideal backdrop for welcoming inbound tourists, even these gained favourable coverage in China, with Manchester’s homeless heroes garnering plaudits for their unselfish, typically British kind-yet-practical help.

So is the rise of Chinese tourism to the UK unstoppable? The indications are certainly pretty positive…


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Interning at China Travel Outbound

By Leah Hui: Tourism Marketing Assistant at China Travel Outbound; University of Sussex Class of 2016 Graduate.

What a thrilling half a year it’s been. I started as an intern at China Travel Outbound on 14 November 2016, a date that’s been eternally etched into my brain – it’s surprising to me how different my life was this time last year, so how did I get here?!

Why did you want to work at CTO? 

I remember scrolling through the university careers page and seeing the job role for CTO pop up. After reading the description, I thought “Hmm… this looks interesting” and immediately applied for the role. It involved various forms of writing mixed in with social media and helping out behind the scenes, a perfect blend. There was also the added bonus of getting to learn about the Chinese travel market which is an area personally, even if biologically, close to my heart. It’s because of this that I thought I could contribute something of value here.

What’s good about being an intern?

I’ve viewed being an intern as a necessary stepping stone for myself to a professional life. I haven’t been completely thrown into the deep end but, instead, I’ve gained an enriching learning experience from it. I’ve been able to improve on my existing skills whilst also learning and developing new ones. Having always loved writing, it’s been great for me to learn how to write well and how to do so for different groups of people. The most rewarding part for me has been seeing blog posts I’ve written go live on the company website. This also feeds in to learning how to use various software packages, which involved learning how to edit the website and create newsletters, skills that I’m sure will come in useful at a later point in my life. It’s also been great to learn about how to communicate effectively with clients, whether through email or the telephone. This whole learning process has been of utmost value to me and I am forever grateful that I’ve had the chance to experience it.

What’s your highlight been?

Learning how to make a cup of coffee.

I’m only joking. But unbelievably, I didn’t actually know how to make one when I arrived here. Flash forward to now and I’m able to juggle making multiple cups!

I have helped oversee, along with two other interns, the Chinese Student Society VIP Trip project from its humble beginnings. It’s been a solid five months of managing and organising a trip for five universities to visit Brighton for a weekend. From its first stages of researching universities, to contacting people, to creating relationships between students, to inviting them and organising their transport for them, I can’t say it’s been easy. So, for me, to see this project finally come together and happen has been a real treat.

I also got to accompany our MD, Helena, in Brighton to show around a couple of journalists from China Central TV. We took them to the Royal Pavilion and The Regency Restaurant where they filmed and interviewed various people. It was really interesting to see the processes that went on behind the scenes and then the end result of that a week later. Amazing to think that CCTV has more than one billion viewers. The numbers in China are enormous. Also, hearing the translations for The Regency’s Mandarin menu was a hilarious moment that I won’t soon forget.

What are your regular tasks?

My regular tasks are varied. I’ve researched and created copy for CTO’s trade newsletter which is sent out on WeChat in China and I’ve also written content for the company’s millennial-targeted WeChat account. I update CTO’s Twitter account daily as well as manage the company email. Once a month, I research and write a blog post which is uploaded onto CTO’s website. I’ve also helped to create a number of CTO’s newsletters which is sent out to clients via email. I also frequently help out with any other tasks that Helena or Julie needs doing which has included proofreading, creating spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations, and researching various things.

And then there’s the student project which requires different tasks to be done every week. Communication and building relationships between myself and the students involved has been vital, as well as organising every other aspect.

What’s it like to work at CTO?

CTO has been joyous to work for. Being based in a small office has been nice as it’s been much easier to get to know everyone that way. From the very beginning, both Helena and Julie have been great in supporting and guiding me in the right directions whilst also letting me figure things out for myself. Many of the conversations shared usually end up revolving around food but I think that’s my fault more than anyone else’s. They’re both lovely and funny people – I even received a panda face mask from Helena as a gift when she visited China.
Panda Mask 1

I’ve also worked alongside two other interns which made starting a new job a lot less daunting. It’s been nice to share this experience with other people and get to know them.

One of the interns, Charlotte, finished her experience at CTO in December. Here’s what she had to say about her time here:

“Interning at China Travel Outbound gave me the exact kind of work experience I had been looking for. I learned a lot from Helena and Julie, and am sure the skills I developed will prove useful in my professional future. I learned how to answer and redirect phone calls with a professional demeanour, how to navigate sites like WordPress and MadMimi, and how to adapt my writing for different audiences. I also loved how Helena and Julie were not afraid to give me advice and constructive criticism and really appreciated my time there as it was the perfect learning experience.”

Julie Withers joins China Travel Outbound

Julie WithersWe are delighted to announce the appointment of Julie Withers as Account Manager at China Travel Outbound. Julie has extensive marketing, communications and account management experience gained at organisations ranging from the NSPCC to Country Living Magazine. Julie’s skills include strategy, new business development, content marketing and event management.

Julie has joined us to help support our growing client base and to undertake new business development. She’s very excited to be working with the growing outbound China travel market and is already proving to be a valuable member of the team. Get in touch with Julie to talk about opportunities in China for your business.

Qingming Festival (Tomb-sweeping Day) April 2-4

Qingming Festival (also known as Pure Brightness Festival or Tomb-sweeping Day) is a Chinese festival which celebrates the beginning of the rising temperatures and increased rainfall synonymous with spring. The festival indicates the beginning of the season for agriculture, as the climate becomes better for ploughing and sowing seeds. However, the festival also has a symbolic affiliation with the paying of respects to the deceased, amongst others.

Qingming Festival is a time of many different activities, among which are tomb sweeping, spring walks and flying kites. Whilst some customs such as wearing willow branches on your head or swinging on swings have generally past into the forgotten realms of Chinese antiquity, new traditions have emerged, such as travelling. Whilst Qingming Festival tends to be more of a local family holiday and not usually an occasion to travel further than your mum’s sofa, China’s outbound travel market has remained strong for all holidays, with many Chinese opting for a Japanese sojourn instead of more traditional fare.

In any case, the annual Qingming festivities bring Chinese across the globe out in droves, and if last year is anything to go by, it’ll be a busy one! 


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We asked our Director in Beijing, Vivienne Song about how she’ll celelebrating Chinese New Year!

With the Year of the Monkey around the corner, we wanted to find out how the people of Beijing would be gearing up for the festivities! We asked China Travel Outbound’s Vivienne Song, to tell us how she will be celebrating this year.

Hi Vivienne! How are you going to be celebrating Chinese New Year this year?

The 7 day long holiday allows us time to spend with our parents, as both my husband and I are not originally from Beijing and so our parents live in other cities.

How are your friends/ family celebrating?

Similarly to at Thanksgiving, most Chinese will return back to their hometown to celebrate the New Year with family. For married women, you would normally be expected to follow your husband to spend the holiday with his family.

Chinese New Year is really about family gathering, visiting relatives and having dinner together.  Before, there were many traditions, like lighting fireworks and making traditional delicacies, but now due to the air pollution many places are prohibiting fireworks, and more and more families are choosing to go restaurants instead of making dinner at home.

The kids definately have the most fun; they get dressed up in new clothes, and collect Hong Bao (red packets containing money) from relatives. Normally, the relatives who are already married give Hong Bao to the kids.

What sort of gifts are you buying your family this year?

Every year I buy different gifts for my parents and parents-in-law, something like jewellery or a new ipad. This year I bought them an air cleaner for both car and home use, as we had terrible air pollution this winter.

What is your favourite part of New Year’s celebrations in China?

The best thing about this week is doing nothing but being a kid again!

What sort of things go on in Beijing?

There is a temple fair of folk custom, a very old tradition in Beijing, where they sell all kinds of New Year stuff and local delicacies. It’s quite like a Christmas market.

What (if anything) makes celebrating ‘the Year of the Monkey’ different than in other years?

Well, there’s really no difference. Only the Year of the Dragon tends to be more of a topic in China, since we always call ourselves ‘the descendants of the Dragon’.


Thanks Vivienne!

Xin Nian Kuai Le sing nee-ann koo-why ler (Happy New Year) to all our Chinese friends

China celebrates the start of the "Year of the Monkey" toady!

2016 Trends in outbound Chinese tourism

According to the China Tourism Research Institute, 2015 saw an incredible 61.90 million outbound visitors from China in just the first half of the year, that’s 12.1% more than during the same period in 2014.

And, surveys conducted by travel agencies all around China predict that outbound tourism is set to rise further still in 2016, despite fears of an economic crash. In fact, it is expected that outbound tourism will see a substantial increase as a result of circumstances effecting Chinese travel. To begin with, more convenient visa policies for Chinese nationals is set to have a huge impact. From this year, new visitor visas for tourists from China will be valid in the UK for two years, which is great news for both the British economy and tourism markets. source

The operation of mChina-e-passport_gallery_display-274x300ore international flights could also offer residents from smaller cities the chance to travel abroad conveniently. The Chinese middle class’s growing ability to afford international travel has seen an ever increasing number of flights leaving from 2nd and 3rd mainland cities. This year, American Airlines is launching a new flight from Xi’an to San Francisco, the first international flight to be launched from the city.

In addition, with the implement of “One Belt and One Road” strategy last year, China’s outbound tourism market is endowed with more opportunities. Proposed by the Chinese government, this strategy encourages connectivity and cooperation among primarily Eurasian countries consisting of the “Silk Road Economic Belt” including Central and Eastern Europe, and the “Maritime Silk Road”, a conduit for trade and cultural exchange between China’s south-eastern coastal areas and foreign countries. The strategy underlines China’s push to take a bigger role in global affairs, as opposed to the country’s long-held reputation as a parochial state.

All of these factors point towards 2016 being the best year yet for outbound Chinese tourism!

If you’d like some help with ideas for your 2016 China marketing strategy, we’re here to help. Contact Helena at [email protected]


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