Demonstrating the importance of the China market, a tourism delegation from the UK will visit Shanghai this week as part of a trade mission that will look to build on the increased interest in Britain as a result of this year’s London 2012 Games.
The group will meet with leading Chinese travel agents from mainland China and Hong Kong with a series of one-on-one appointments and seminars aimed at boosting destination knowledge and advising on issues such as visas.
Chinese visitors to Britain are drawn to the country by its creativity, its rich culture and heritage, its enchanting countryside and the wonderful shopping experience. Last year a record 150,000 visitors arrived in the UK from China, spending £240 million in the process. These figures continue to increase each year, and VisitBritain is keen to turbo charge its efforts to significantly boost the number of Chinese tourists heading to Britain, with an ambition to attract an additional 233,000 visits by 2020. Such an undertaking highlights the significance of the China Mission.
With 40 British organisations taking part in China Mission 2012, this will be the largest ever delegation of tourism businesses to journey to China, an indication of just how well regarded China is by the UK tourism industry. The group includes national and regional tourism boards, city and tourist attraction promotion organisations, travel agencies, hotel groups, major retail groups and specialist tour operators(1). They will look to enhance their relationship with the Chinese travel industry, strengthening awareness of the ‘GREAT Britain’ brand with Chinese trade and consumers and inspiring them choose Britain for their holiday booking.
In a signal of how important the China market is to British tourism, nine of the 40 organisations travelling on the Mission are taking part for the first time. The View from The Shard - atop Western Europe’s tallest building and London’s newest landmark - will be looking to woo Chinese visitors with the chance to see the city like never before with 360 degree views for up to 40 miles. Continuing to boost Britain’s shopping credentials to the high spending Chinese, retailers make up one of the largest contingents joining the trade mission, including newcomers the Burlington Arcade - the elegant 19th century decorated shopping arcade, and John Lewis - the largest multi-channel retailer in the UK and one of the new Westfield Stratford City's flagship stores.
Earlier this month, VisitBritain launched the next phase of its ‘GREAT’ campaign to capitalise on the increased interest in Britain from China. This includes a seven month run of print advertising in National Geographic, advertorials in Time Out and on Yahoo!, and partnered with British Airways to encourage people to come to Britain for their Christmas shopping and the January sales. To help improve an understanding of the UK’s visa system for Chinese visitors, VisitBritain has also announced that it would be adding a visa training module to their highly successful BritAgent programme. Travel agents play a vital role in China, with 80% of bookings made through conventional travel agents.
British Consul General in Shanghai, Brian Davidson said: "London 2012 brought the city to a wider audience in China, and now as we move into 2013 we hope that the rest of the UK will be keenly explored by an increasing number of Chinese tourists".
VisitBritain’s Director of Overseas Network, Keith Beecham said: “2012 has allowed us to show the world what a vibrant and welcoming destination Britain is, with its creativity, music and sense of fun witnessed by millions globally. We hope the people of China - having watched the best of Britain on their screens during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Games – will now want to come and experience the real thing for themselves.
“We recognise that China is a hugely important market for tourism to Britain. We believe delivering the ambitious growth in China will require us to address four key areas, namely:
• Strengthening Britain’s image through the GREAT campaign;
• Ensuring a broader range of British product is sold through the travel trade;
• Further enhancing the visitor visa process; and
• Increasing flight connections from China to Britain.
For more information contact:
VisitBritain Media Teampressandpr@visitbritain.com