Chinese visitors stay longer and spend more in the UK than their European counterparts and contribute to creating one job in Britain’s tourism industry per every 22 Chinese tourists, according to VisitBritain CEO Sally Balcombe.
She said in Shanghai March 3 that VisitBritain aims to double current annual expenditure in the UK by Chinese visitors to a 1 billion GBP a year within the next five years.
To reach this goal, the UK government and companies are aggressively launching strategies to woo Chinese. Prince William will chair a British creative arts festival in Shanghai on March 2-4 that will launch a British cultural promotion campaign in China and facilitate Sino-British business partnerships. VisitBritain also decided at the end of 2014 to give Chinese names to all British tourist sites.
Birmingham Airport formed a strategic partnership with China’s Caissa Touristic and HNA Tourism on March 3 to launch a Beijing-Birmingham direct flight twice a week from July 3 this year.
The partnership is estimated to bring an additional 4,000 Chinese visitors to the UK via Birmingham and contribute 19 million GBP to the UK regional economy in July and August 2015, according to Birmingham Airport director Jo Lloyd.
British Culture, Media and Sport minister Sajid Javid also expects more partnerships to arise with the new Birmingham air route partnership bringing Chinese tourists into the heartland of England.
“Increased globalization is the focus of our long-term economic development and regular flights connecting the Chinese capital with Britain’s second-tier cities will promote development in the local tourism industry and build a bridge for bilateral commerce,” he said.
Chinese tourists bring a measure of prosperity to the British economy burdened by the Eurozone economic crisis. Birmingham has effectively raised the number of its international visitors by a third and doubled the number of Chinese tourists, according to UK government statistics.
The UK market has taken an increasingly positive attitude towards Chinese capital investment as well. Chinese developer Wanda made many large-scale investments in 2013, including the 320 million GBP acquisition of UK yacht company Sunseeker International and the construction of the five-star Wanda Hotel in the heart of London for 700 million GBP.
The UK government is taking an increasingly relaxed attitude towards Chinese companies in regards to visas, according to British ambassador to China Stephen Cox. “They have realized that excellent Chinese companies like Huawei bring new opportunities for growth to the British economy and relieve unemployment,” he said.
VisitBritain’s Louise Bryce also said they got a good impression of Chinese investors like Wanda and feel that Chinese businesses can help them preserve historical buildings and discover new market opportunities.
“We have investors coming in from all over the world including China and we are delighted to see Chinese companies investing in the UK. We will strive to create better conditions and offer our assistance to them,” she said. (Translation by David)