Starting today, the delegation will tour Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong in an effort wants to attract China’s rapidly growing middle class to visit Britain.
The delegation will comprise representatives from 32 organisations, including UK hotel brand Radisson Edwardian, Cotswolds Country House Hotels, Calcot Manor and Lords of the Manor, and the five-star Goring Hotel in London.
The hoteliers, along with several high-end retail brands also on the trip, also want to target some of China’s wealthiest individuals with their luxury offering.
The four-day trip comes after figures revealed that visitor numbers from China to the UK increased by 23 per cent last year and by a further 23 per cent in the first nine months of 2011. Chinese visitors to Britain spend an average £1,700 each, more than three times the global average.
Crucial time for tourism
VisitBritain believes that, at the current rate of growth, the UK could see visitor numbers from China reach 300,000 a year by 2020.
Patricia Yates, VisitBritain’s strategy and communications director, said: “This will be the largest ever delegation of British tourism businesses to journey to China, an indication of how important the market is to Britain as we reach a crucial time for tourism.
“The recent Nation Brands Index show that the UK is the number one destination of choice for Chinese travellers, drawn here by our rich culture and heritage. Missions such as this allow us to showcase the range of experiences that Britain has to offer and are essential if Britain is to compete effectively for the growing number of affluent Chinese travellers.”
But despite the tourist board’s optimism, an October report from the London School of Oriental and Asian Studies commissioned by Hilton Hotels found that the UK hotel industry has a long way to go if it is to maximise the benefit from Chinese tourists’ increased spending power.
Understanding the Chinese consumer
According to the report, British hotels need to meet the needs of Chinese consumers by using marketing initiatives suited to the Chinese market, embracing Chinese social media, and increasing Chinese language presence in hotels through Mandarin-speaking staff and Chinese signage.
Training company CRCC Asia last week launched a new internship programme aimed at the hospitality sector, which will offer UK participants the opportunity to gain experience in five-star hotels in China. The programme will allow the UK hospitality sector to ‘understand the Chinese consumer’, a spokesman for CRCC told BigHospitality today.
Daniel Nivern, director of CRCC Asia said: “This is an excellent opportunity for participants to acquire an in-depth understanding not only the hotel sector, but also of Chinese consumer behaviour and Chinese language skills – highly marketable for those aspiring to work in the hospitality sector in the UK or abroad.”