VisitBritain has celebrated its milestone partnerships with Hainan Airlines and Alitrip, Alibaba group’s tourism arm, in China.
Both partnerships have been established to attract more Chinese visitors to Britain.
UK secretary of state for culture, media and sport Karen Bradley and VisitBritain director Patricia Yates, who is leading a tourism delegation of companies from across Britain, met with senior executives from Hainan Airlines and Alitrip at an event at Madame Tussauds in Shanghai, as part of the fourth UK-China People to People Dialogue.
HNA Group announced its latest application to the Civil Aviation Administration of China for five new airline routes into Britain following the new air service agreement between China and the UK.
The Chinese cities to be connected directly with Britain are Changsha, Chengdu, Qingdao, Shenzhen and Xi’an, all to be serviced by HNA Group’s three subsidiary airlines including Hainan Airlines, Tianjin Airlines and Capital Airlines.
Hainan Airlines is the only Chinese airline with which VisitBritain has a long-term strategic partnership in China.
VisitBritain’s partnership with Alitrip, following a Memorandum of Understanding for Strategic Partnership signed in October, will create a virtual British marketplace on Alitrip’s digital platform, showcasing the diversity of UK tourism products directly to millions of Chinese consumers and also promoting great experiences and destinations across Britain to Chinese visitors, converting the inspiration to visit into bookings.
Bradley said: “The UK is home to world-class museums, fantastic heritage sites and stunning countryside. This partnership between VisitBritain, HNA Group and Alibaba will make it even easier for Chinese tourists to enjoy the wonderful attractions the UK has to offer, and is another example of how we are doing business right across the globe.”
VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said that China, the world’s most valuable outbound market, was a huge tourism opportunity for Britain.
Chinese visitors stay longer and travel more widely across Britain than other international visitors, averaging 15 nights compared to eight for other visitors, with more than half of this time spent outside London.
They are some of the highest spending visitors to the UK, spending on average £2,174 during each visit, more than three times the average visitor.
Every 22 additional Chinese visitors that Britain attracts supports an additional job in tourism in the UK.
VisitBritain has ambitions to double spend from Chinese visitors to £1 billion by 2020.