‘GREAT China Welcome’ is VisitBritain’s initiative to make Britain the most welcoming destination in Europe for Chinese visitors. Supported by Government Ministers, it aims to encourage UK tourism and hospitality businesses to sign up to a Charter which proves that their products and services are right for Chinese visitors.
China is now the world’s largest outbound tourism market and provisional data for 2013 suggests that the number of visitors to Britain from China hit 200,000 for the first time. Spend figures are even more remarkable, with Chinese visitors parting with over £400 million during the first nine months of 2013 alone.
The new GREAT China Welcome Chartermark will help Chinese visitors to easily find hotels, attractions and tour operators which offer information in mandarin and other tailored services. VisitBritain hopes it will also encourage more British tourism providers to invest in making their products more suitable for the Chinese market.
One hundred businesses have so far signed the Charter, which is free and open to any UK business which meets the necessary criteria.
Today VisitBritain CEO Sandie Dawe visited Blenheim Palace - one of the Charter’s founder members - to unveil the Chartermark with the Palace’s Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill and Cultural Minister Counsellor Mr Xiang Xiaowei, to an audience of top Chinese travel trade and media. Keith Williams, Executive Chairman of British Airways – another founder member of the Charter and the carrier for the Chinese delegation – was also present at the launch.
After flying the flag for the GREAT China Welcome, the party planted a special Friendship Tree in the grounds of Blenheim Palace to create a lasting legacy of the event and commemorate Arbor Day, a popular public holiday in China celebrated by planting trees.
Sandie Dawe, CEO of VisitBritain said: “Record numbers of Chinese visitors are already coming to Britain and we want to ensure we continue to compete in the world’s biggest outbound market. Improving our welcome is key to continuing this growth. The GREAT China Welcome Charter will help differentiate Britain from its European neighbours and work towards our target of welcoming 650,000 Chinese visits a year by 2020 - worth nearly £1.1 billion annually to the UK economy.”
Cultural Minister Counsellor Mr Xiang Xiaowei commented: “Britain is an increasingly popular destination for people across China. The GREAT China Welcome Chartermark will help Chinese visitors enjoy their visits more with quality services by the British practitioners. We appreciate Britain’s commitment to welcoming Chinese visitors to enjoy this great country.”
Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill of Blenheim Palace said: ‘’We are delighted to host The GREAT China Welcome Charter launch today and are proud to be one of the founder members. In recent years we have seen a significant increase in the number of Chinese visitors and have therefore launched new initiatives that include UnionPay bank cards, Mandarin literature and tour guides, ensuring our Chinese visitors feel welcome when visiting.’’
Keith Williams, Executive Chairman of British Airways, commented: “British Airways is proud to be a founding member of VisitBritain’s GREAT China Welcome Charter, which is an important and unique initiative.
With more than 30 years history of flying to China our commitment to the region is stronger than ever. From May 5, direct flights between London Heathrow and Chengdu will increase to five times a week, operated by our brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliners. British Airways’ mission is ‘To Fly. To Serve.’ and we want to deliver that for all our Chinese customers.”
On 26 March over 160 representatives from the Charter’s founder and prospective members will attend the GREAT China Welcome Business Summit in London to hear how they can make their businesses more China-ready. This will coincide with the publication of an online guide for UK businesses, combined with a GREAT China Welcome self-assessment tool which will enable individual businesses see where improvements are most needed.
For more information contact:
VisitBritain Media Teampressandpr@visitbritain.com