Today Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and He Guangwei, Minister for Tourism and Chairman of the Chinese National Tourism Administration (CNTA), signed a Memorandum of Understanding to grant Approved Destination Status (ADS) to the UK. This historic event gives the UK access to the fastest growing outbound tourism market in the world. UKinbound, the travel trade body representing over 270 inbound tourism organisations, warmly welcomed the announcement. Until now, the Chinese government has generally only permitted travel to the UK for study and business related reasons. Today’s agreement permits groups of Chinese nationals to visit the UK as tourists for the first time.
Stephen Dowd, UKinbound, chief executive said: “We have been active supporters of ADS since negotiations began and we will continue to press for its early implementation. This agreement will provide a new range of opportunities for the UK’s inbound tourism industry and should prove a major boost to our tourism export earnings for many years to come.”
As well as allowing Chinese nationals to travel here for leisure, gaining ADS status also allows the National Tourist Office of the destination to actively promote travel to their country and UKinbound will be actively working with VisitBritain to ensure the UK is well represented.
China’s population of 1.3 billion is becoming increasingly prosperous and keen to enjoy new experiences. In 2003 the number of outbound Chinese tourists reached a record 20 million and, according to estimates from the World Tourism Organisation, this figure is set to further increase to 100 million by 2020, making China one of the top outbound tourism markets in the world. Britain’s wealth of historic and cultural attractions are expected to be in high demand, as will Britain’s shops and restaurants. If, by 2007, the UK can attract just 1% of this market, UKinbound estimates this could generate approximately £1.1bn for the British economy and create around 25,000 jobs.
Currently, UKinbound chief executive Stephen Dowd is preparing to accompany the Minister of Tourism, Richard Caborn, and other industry leaders on a Ministerial Delegation to Beijing to mark the signing of ADS, to celebrate the opening of the first UK Visa Application Centre in China and to meet senior officials of the Chinese National Tourism Administration.
Stephen Dowd said: “The UK is well advanced in its preparations to welcome the first Chinese tourists to the UK and we look forward to showing them the many wonderful attractions our country has to offer.”