A VISITBRITAIN entourage consisting of 32 UK-based organisations and 75 travel experts embarked last week on a series of B2B appointments in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
The representatives were drawn together to share the latest updates and product offerings from the UK, with the aim of capturing business from China’s growing middle class.
Speaking to TTG Asia e-Daily, VisitBritain strategy & communications director, Patricia Yates, said: “What makes this mission different is more retail organizations are taking part, such as department stores Selfridges, Harrods, Westfield London and Bicester Village.
“It’s because the domestic (UK) market has softened for shopping that they are targeting the Chinese market who are traditionally high spenders.”
According to Yates, the Chinese market to the UK has matured quickly and is moving towards exploring outside of London.
“When courting the China market, the travel trade is vital,” she added. “We therefore work closely with them through things such as the incentive scheme with British Airways, which is set to launch next year. For FITs, we link up with the English Premier (football) League to tour Chinese within Britain.”
Statistics provided by VisitBritain indicate strong growth in mainland Chinese traffic to the UK—109,000 visitors in 2010, a 23 per cent hike over 2009. During the first nine months of 2011, the numbers jumped by a further 23 per cent.
Yates is anticipating even more Chinese visitors in 2012, with a whole year of celebrations highlighted by the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“It’s a good time to see real buzz in London,” she said. “Moreover, weak currency (the pound compared to the Chinese yuan) benefits tourism and I am surprised it has taken so long to get the message across to the Chinese market.”
She added: “We also have a British Airways and VisitBritian joint promotion campaign launched in October, with special fare promotions in Hong Kong and China in phase one, and more trade promotions to be launched early next year.”