Regent Street in London. (Shutterstock)
British luxury brands and retailers like Burberry and Harrods are likely celebrating the contents of a new Barclays report released last Friday, which projects that Chinese tourist spending in the UK will skyrocket over the next three years.
According to the study released by the financial firm, the total amount of Chinese tourist spending in the UK is expected to shoot up from its current position of the 10th-highest amount by nationality to the fifth-highest by 2017. This will account for a staggering increase of 84 percent, with growth from the current £549 million (around US$925 million) £1.01 billion (about $1.7 billion). Chinese travelers' total share of tourism revenue is expected to rise from its current 2.7 percent to 3.7 percent.
According to Barclays Head of Retail & Wholesale Richard Lowe, there are several things businesses can do to cash in on foreign tourist money. He states that it is "worth considering that British-made goods remain popular amongst overseas consumers, so it would be time well-spent evaluating how they market their products to audiences from overseas eager to snap up ‘Brand Britain.’”
Loosening visa restrictions on visitors from emerging economies such as China could play a major role in the amount of foreign tourism revenue coming in, according to the report. Aware of the massive sales growth possibilities afforded by a Chinese visitor influx, British luxury retailers have been campaigning heavily to reduce visa restrictions for Chinese visitors, which have met with success over the past year. As a result, luxury retailers and hoteliers across London and beyond have been introducing special services to appeal to Chinese visitors such as providing Mandarin-speaking staff and Chinese payment methods.
The UK’s tourism marketing agency VisitBritain launched a China campaign called the Great China Welcome Program in March to encourage more businesses to launch these special services. The program will include participating businesses on a list available to Chinese visitors planning their trip.
“Opportunities abound for both retailers and the leisure industry to capitalize on these growing tourist numbers and spend, " said Lowe. "Businesses putting in the time and effort to understand their client demographic and to talk to their audience through whatever channels they use, be it social media or more traditional, will carve out an advantage that will enable them to offer something more tailored for each nationality that visits our shores."