Announced this morning as part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s three-day visit to China, the ‘China Welcome’ campaign aims to secure 650,000 Chinese visits a year by 2020, worth nearly £1.1bn annually to the UK economy.
The campaign, spearheaded by national tourist board VisitBritain, will showcase, promote and develop how the UK hospitality and travel industries cater for the needs of Chinese visitors when it launches in spring 2014.
“Britain is very much open for business and this is just the beginning,” said Miller. “We want businesses from up and down the country to get involved, sign up and be part of this new game-changing initiative.
“The new ‘China Welcome’ initiative shows how serious we are about making sure Britain is ahead of the competition when it comes to attracting Chinese businesses and tourists. We are determined to encourage more Chinese people come to our shores, enjoy our culture, heritage, food, sport, shopping, countryside and music and invest in our country.”
GREAT British welcome
VisitBritain will work with hospitality and tourism businesses to build on their progress, sharing customer insights, raising cultural awareness and encouraging the training of qualified Mandarin-speaking guides, translated websites and visitor literature.
The organisation’s chief executive Sandie Dawe said: “In the last 12 months China has become the largest tourism source market in the world, worth $102bn.
“We want to make sure that Britain competes effectively for this market, helping the industry to develop products and services that appeal to Chinese visitors and making sure that the message of the GREAT British welcome is widely promoted.”
Hilton Worldwide, which is already attracting Chinese guests with its ‘Huanying’ programme, has become the first hotel to sign up to the China Welcome campaign. Virgin Atlantic, the John Lewis partnership and the Roman Baths in Bath among the other organisations that are on-board.
Tourism spend and visits from China have soared in the latest 2013 figures. The Chinese inbound market has grown faster in percentage terms than any other of VisitBritain’s 22 priority markets, with spend up by 132 per cent to £181m and visits rising by 21 per cent in the first half of 2013 compared to the first half of 2012.
Earlier this month VisitBritain held its biggest China trade mission to date in Chengdu, with 43 UK suppliers meeting over 75 Chinese buyers. Today’s China Welcome announcement, taking place at an event on the Shanghai Bund, was a call for more hospitality and tourism businesses to sign up and get involved.