‘GREAT China Welcome’ is a new initiative from VisitBritain as the national tourism board looks to secure 650,000 Chinese visitors - spending £1.1bn in the UK - by 2020.
“Record numbers of Chinese visitors are already coming to Britain and we want to ensure we continue to compete in the world’s biggest outbound market,” said VisitBritain’s chief executive Sandie Dawe.
“Improving our welcome is key to continuing this growth. The GREAT China Welcome Charter will help differentiate Britain from its European neighbours and work towards our target of welcoming 650,000 Chinese visits a year by 2020 - worth nearly £1.1bn annually to the UK economy.”
The new GREAT China Welcome Chartermark will help Chinese visitors easily find hotels, attractions and tour operators that offer information in mandarin along with other tailored services.
Get on board
One hundred businesses have so far signed the Charter, which is free and open to any UK business which meets the necessary criteria. VisitBritain hopes it will also encourage more British tourism providers to invest in making their products more suitable for the Chinese market.
Today VisitBritain CEO Sandie Dawe visited Blenheim Palace - one of the Charter’s founder members - to unveil the Chartermark with the Palace’s Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill and Cultural Minister Counsellor Mr Xiang Xiaowei, to an audience of top Chinese travel trade and media.
Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill of Blenheim Palace said:‘’We are delighted to host The GREAT China Welcome Charter launch today and are proud to be one of the founder members.
“In recent years we have seen a significant increase in the number of Chinese visitors and have therefore launched new initiatives that include UnionPay bank cards, Mandarin literature and tour guides, ensuring our Chinese visitors feel welcome when visiting.’’
Flying the flag
Cultural Minister Counsellor Xiang Xiaowei added: “Britain is an increasingly popular destination for people across China. The GREAT China Welcome Chartermark will help Chinese visitors enjoy their visits more with quality services by the British practitioners.
“We appreciate Britain’s commitment to welcoming Chinese visitors to enjoy this great country.”
After flying the flag for the GREAT China Welcome, the party planted a special Friendship Tree in the grounds of Blenheim Palace to create a lasting legacy of the event and commemorate Arbor Day, a popular public holiday in China celebrated by planting trees.
China is now the world’s largest outbound tourism market and provisional data for 2013 suggests that the number of visitors to Britain from China hit 200,000 for the first time. Spend figures are even more remarkable, with Chinese visitors parting with over £400m during the first nine months of 2013 alone.
Criteria for the GREAT China Welcome Charter
There is no formal assessment but businesses need to provide firm evidence that they already - or will very imminently - provide one or more of the following: -
- A product or a service that is of genuine interest to potential Chinese visitors and meets their distinct cultural needs and expectations
- First-hand experience of welcoming Chinese visitors within the past two years
- Mandarin speaking staff
- Translated websites, apps or literature
- Visitor information or signage in Mandarin
- Visitor-facing staff who have undergone training about Chinese culture and etiquette
- Facilities for customers to pay using China UnionPay
- Some form of formal collaboration with a peer organisation in China
Businesses can be privately or publicly owned and there is no minimum size.