VisitBritain Spokesman Says Lure Of Shopping, Football Should Attract Upwards Of 100,000 More Chinese Tourists To UK In Next Four Years
It’s well established that China’s elite sees Britain as a prime destination for luxury shopping, real estate buying sprees, and even for their children, but as travel restrictions gradually ease, travel to the UK is starting to become attainable for the burgeoning Chinese middle class as well. As a spokesman for VisitBritain — the official site of the British Tourism Authority — told Sky News this week, the lure not only of high-end shopping in London but also Premier League Football, which enjoys extraordinary popularity throughout mainland China, should see upwards of 100,000 more Chinese tourists headed to the UK by 2014. (A rise of 89% over current figures.)
[Paul Eastham, a spokesman for VisitBritain, told Sky News]: “Things like Premier League matches have taken off in China, attracting audiences in the millions. There is a keenness of the Chinese to see the game in this country.
“Manchester United created an affinity credit card. It’s the biggest thing of its kind in China.”
He went on to say that wealthy families are increasingly sending their children to be educated in the UK and this means relatives are also visiting the country.
The Government’s relaxations on private passport and visa applications have also encouraged demand for independent travel, particularly among young people.
Last year’s visitors from China were split fairly between holidaymakers, businessmen and people visiting friends and relatives.
As another, somewhat related, article in Sky News this weekend points out, the growing number of tourists visiting the UK from countries like China will be a boon not only for the British tourism industry but also for British job-seekers. As British PM David Cameron told reporters this weekend, encouraging more visits from big-spending Chinese tourists could create around 10,000 jobs in the tourism sector and help the country attract some of the money these visitors are currently spending in other destinations like Germany. From Sky:
In a speech to industry figures at London’s Serpentine Gallery [David Cameraon] said Britain must become more of a magnet for big-spending travellers.
“I want to see us in the top five destinations in the world. But that means being much more competitive internationally. Take Chinese tourists, for example,” he said.
For too long tourism has been looked down on as a second class service sector. That’s just wrong.
“We’re their 22nd most popular destination. But Germany is forecast to break into their top 10. Why can’t we? Currently we only have 0.5% of the market share of Chinese tourists. If we could increase that to just 2.5% this could add over half a billion pounds of spending to our economy and some sources suggest this could mean as many as 10,000 new jobs.”