Britain could expect a boost in visits from China as Chinese New Year gets underway from this Saturday 28 January.
Chinese New Year is a prime time of travel for the Chinese and Britain is gearing up to host some of the largest celebrations outside Asia. Events include dragon parades in Manchester, lion dances in Birmingham and festivals and events in London’s China Town, Glasgow, Newcastle, Cumbria and the Isle of Wight to name a few.
Latest flight booking data shows that bookings from China to the UK were up 81% for January 2017 compared to the same month last year, and up 43% for January to March this year.
China is the world’s most valuable outbound tourism market and VisitBritain has announced partnerships with Hainan Airlines and Alitrip, Alibaba Group’s tourism arm, to drive growth in visits from China.
VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said:
“Britain is offering great value for Chinese visitors right now. This is traditionally one of the busiest travel times for Chinese travellers and we want Britain to be top of their list as a must-go now destination.
“Working with commercial partners Hainan Airlines we’re making it easier to travel to Britain through increasing regional route connectivity and seat capacity.
“And by amplifying our marketing reach in China with Alitrip, showcasing the diversity of experiences and destinations across Britain, we’re converting the inspiration to visit into bookings, driving our ambitious plans for growth.”
Chinese visitors are some of the UK’s highest spenders, spending on average £2,174 during their visit, more than three and a half times the average.
Research by VisitBritain shows that Chinese visitors are interested in luxury shopping and enjoy Britain’s high-end department stores and outlet shops. They are almost three times as likely to buy bags and purses in Britain than the average visitor and twice as likely to buy personal accessories.
As at the end of December 2016, Britain was 11% more affordable for visitors from China compared with the same month in 2015.
Chinese visitors also stay longer and travel more across Britain than other international visitors, averaging 15 nights compared to eight for other visitors, with more than half of this time spent outside London.
Every 22 additional Chinese visitors that Britain attracts supports an additional job in tourism in the UK.
VisitBritain has ambitions to double spend from Chinese visitors to £1 billion by 2020. In 2015 China moved into Britain’s top 10 most valuable inbound markets for the first time with Chinese visitors spending £586 million.
VisitBritain is forecasting a record-breaking year for inbound tourism in 2017. The number of overall inbound visits to the UK is expected to rise to 38.1 million, up 4% on 2016 which is likely to see about 36.7 million visits by year end.
Spending by overseas visitors is predicted to reach £24.1 billion in 2017, an 8% increase on spending last year which is expected to top out at £22.3 billion.
Inbound tourism is worth more than £26 billion to the UK economy.