Demonstrating the importance of the China market, a highly influential tourism delegation from the UK will visit Shanghai this week to create more business as a result of the renewed interest in Britain post London 2012 and Diamond Jubilee.
As part of the trade mission and to create a tourism legacy which generates immediate income for the UK, the group will meet with leading Chinese travel agents with a series of one-on-one business appointments and key seminars.
With a record 40 British organisations taking part in China Mission 2012, this will be the largest ever delegation of tourism businesses, an indication of just how well regarded China is by the UK tourism industry.
The group includes national and regional tourism boards, city and tourist attraction promotion organisations, travel agencies, hotel groups, major retail groups and specialist tour operators.
They will look to enhance their relationship with the Chinese travel industry, strengthening awareness of the ‘GREAT Britain’ brand with Chinese consumers, inspiring them to choose Britain for their holiday booking.
Research by VisitBritain shows that Chinese visitors are drawn here by our rich culture and heritage, enchanting countryside and wonderful shopping experiences.
Last year a record 150,000 visitors arrived in the UK from China, spending £240 million in the process.
Over the last five years the UK has welcomed a 39 per cent rise in visits from China, and VisitBritain hopes that by 2020 it can attract an additional 233,000 visitors - a 156 per cent increase.
The VisitBritain mission has attracted a vast amount of new interest, with nine of the organisations taking part for the very first time.
The View from The Shard - atop Western Europe’s tallest building and London’s newest landmark - will be looking to woo Chinese visitors with the chance to see the city like never before with 360 degree views for up to 40 miles.
Continuing to boost Britain’s shopping credentials to the high spending Chinese, retailers make up one of the largest contingents, including newcomers the Burlington Arcade - the elegant 19th century decorated shopping arcade, and John Lewis - the largest multi-channel retailer in the UK and one of the new Westfield Stratford City’s flagship stores.
China mission leader and VisitBritain’s director of overseas, Keith Beecham, said: “The UK tourism opportunities from China are vast, numerous and there to be developed further, especially in this crucial post-London 2012 period.
“Such was the demand from the industry that our mission could have been booked more than three times over. Everyone now recognises that China is a hugely important market for tourism and these business trips will help us achieve our target of welcoming 382,000 Chinese visitors by 2020.”
To help improve an understanding of the UK’s visa system for Chinese visitors, VisitBritain has also announced that it would be adding a visa training module to their highly successful BritAgent programme.
Travel agents play a vital role in China, with 80 per cent of bookings made through conventional travel agents.
Earlier this month, VisitBritain launched the next phase of its ‘GREAT’ campaign to capitalise on the increased interest in Britain from China.
This includes a seven month run of print advertising in National Geographic, advertorials in Time Out and on Yahoo!, and a partnership with British Airways to encourage Chinese to come to Britain for their Christmas shopping and the January sales.