Likely boost to inbound tourism to Britain as China National Day and Golden Week holiday get underway

Wednesday 30 September 2015

More Chinese tourists are visiting Britain than ever before with numbers likely to get another boost during the coming week as China National Day and Golden Week holiday get underway tomorrow (Thursday 1 October).

Golden Week is one of the prime times of travel for the Chinese and more than ever are choosing to visit Britain, with seat availability on flights from China up 16%* for October 2015, compared to the same month last year. Overall, international visits from China have more than doubled over the last five years from 89,000 in 2009 to 185,000 in 2014, with the country set to become one of the UK's fastest-growing tourism markets.

Chinese visitors are also some of our highest spending, spending an average of £2,688 each, and four times more than the average. They also stay longer with an average holiday length of 10 nights compared to six across all inbound visits. British fashion brands are particularly popular with the Chinese, and visiting a luxury store is also reflected in high-spend across the Chinese market, with almost 40% of Chinese visitors heading for shopping at luxury stores.

Inspiring more Chinese visitors to come to Britain and experience what makes it a GREAT destination was top of the agenda as VisitBritain's Chief Executive Officer Sally Balcombe welcomed Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne at a reception in Chengdu, China last week alongside a number of Chinese media, travel and trade representatives.

The Chancellor launched the next phase of VisitBritain's Culture is GREAT campaign to promote memorable moments visitors can only get in Britain. The £1.3 million social media campaign will invite Chinese visitors to create, share and upload images of their own experiences. Known in China as ‘Enjoy the GREAT fun times in Britain,' these images will be shared globally by VisitBritain to inspire fellow travellers to come and experience all that is GREAT about Britain. The campaign aims to reach more than 100 million people.

The campaign builds on VisitBritain's GREAT China Naming campaign earlier this year, where Chinese people were invited to suggest new names for British landmarks. Some of the classics included Savile Row named "The Street for the Tall, Rich and Handsome," Sherwood Forest named the "The Forest of Chivalrous Thieves," the Highland Games was "Strong-man skirt parties" and Llanfairpwll in Wales "Healthy-lung Village." More than 300 million people saw this campaign across VisitBritain's global social media channels and it won global awards at Cannes.

VisitBritain is also working hard to promote travel to all the nations and regions of Britain. Chinese visitors already have a relatively high propensity to explore beyond the capital with 50% of visitor nights spent outside London. VisitBritain is engaging with the travel trade to ensure that these numbers continue to grow, with a visa refund scheme that refunds the cost of the visa to Chinese visitors who spend at least eight days in the UK, four of which have to be out of London, and a China Welcome programme, ( now signed by more than 300 British businesses, to build Britain as the most welcoming destination in Europe for the Chinese.

VisitBritain Chief Executive Officer Sally Balcombe said:

"China is the world's largest outbound market and a huge tourism opportunity for Britain. Chinese visitors have very positive perceptions of Britain, they already stay longer here than in our European competitor destinations and are high spenders - every 22 additional Chinese visitors we attract supports an additional job in tourism. We aim to double the current annual expenditure in the UK by Chinese visitors to £1 billion a year within the next five years.

"We are working hard to make sure that Britain is the destination of choice for the rapidly-growing Chinese market, further increasing their desire to travel here through high-profile campaigns in China, as part of our GREAT campaign."

The UK and Chinese Governments also recently signed a new Memorandum of Understanding ( to hold annual talks on tourism with the China National Tourism Administration. The aim is to increase strategic co-operation on tourism through improving travel connections between the two countries and promote relationships between the UK and Chinese travel trade.

Inbound tourism is one of Britain's most successful export industries - worth £26.2 billion to the economy.



About VisitBritain

  • VisitBritain is the strategic body for inbound tourism, ensuring that international tourism continues to deliver economic growth and jobs across the nations and regions of Britain.
  • Our strength is that we understand international customers and markets. Our international network of offices which covers 22 markets is a resource supporting the industry and destinations to grow the value of tourism exports. We are a founding partner of the GREAT campaign working alongside organisations such as the FCO, UKTI and The British Council.
  • Locking in private sector funding: In the last three years we have raised £43 million from commercial partners - airlines, operators and global brands such as the English Premier League and Sony - to match-fund international tourism marketing.
  • Customer Focused: Our strength is our understanding of international markets and customers. We know what motivates overseas customers to travel and how to inspire them to choose Britain.

For more information contact:

VisitBritain Media Team

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UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, VisitBritain's CEO, Sally Balcombe and representatives from Chinese travel trade_ Chengdu China