British Airways, IAG seek partners to target increasing Chinese tourists
British airlines and retailers are finding Chinese business partners to make the most of increasing number of Chinese tourists visiting the United Kingdom.
The number of Chinese visitors to the UK has soared by over 150 percent in the five years since 2012. In 2017 alone, the UK received more than 500,000 visitors, a record.
A PwC survey revealed a 27 percent year-on-year growth in Chinese visitors to London last year.
So, British Airways or BA, which already operates 17 weekly flights to Beijing and Shanghai from the UK, will develop its networks further in China. BA is also eager to engage with startups to bring more innovative and smart travel services to Chinese customers.
For its part, International Airlines Group is mulling how to integrate Alipay and WeChat Pay into its payment systems so that its subsidiaries can accept mobile-based e-payments.
To meet future demand, BA is investing 4.5 billion pounds (USD 6.4 billion) over the next five years on improving aircraft facilities. It is also investing 600 million pounds in its Club World business class to lure more high-end customers.
According to Global Blue, a global tax-free shopping information service provider, Chinese tourists' spending in London surged 32 percent last year compared to the 5-percent growth in the eurozone in the same period as Chinese travelers took advantage of a weakened British pound.
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