‘GREAT China Welcome’ is VisitBritain’s initiative to make Britain the most welcoming destination in Europe for Chinese visitors.
Supported by government ministers, it aims to encourage UK tourism and hospitality businesses to sign up to a Charter which proves that their products and services are right for Chinese visitors.
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 £400 million during the first nine months of 2013 alone.
The new GREAT China Welcome Chartermark will help Chinese visitors to easily find hotels, attractions and tour operators which offer information in mandarin and other tailored services.
VisitBritain hopes it will also encourage more British tourism providers to invest in making their products more suitable for the Chinese market.
One hundred businesses have so far signed the Charter, which is free and open to any UK business which meets the necessary criteria.
Today VisitBritain chief executive 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 Xiang Xiaowei, to an audience of top Chinese travel trade and media.
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.
Dawe said: “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.
“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 £1.1 billion annually to the UK economy.”
On March 26th over 160 representatives from the Charter’s founder and prospective members will attend the GREAT China Welcome Business Summit in London to hear how they can make their businesses more China-ready.