Also known as “British Week”, the event begins April 15, and will include seminars about education, technology, and culture, as well as showcases of British luxury goods and a tourism salon. “Although there are a handful of British companies and Britons in Kunming, I think Kunming and Yunnan generally haven’t got many links with the UK. So our desire to put this on is very much to introduce ourselves to the people of Kunming, and more broadly to people across the province,” says British Consul-General Tina Redfield in an interview with Kunming-based blog Go Kunming. “I would say the average person in Yunnan isn’t particularly familiar with UK tourist attractions or how to invest.”
The British Embassy chose Kunming to host “British Week”, the first of its kind in the region, because it believes that unlike neighboring top performing cities Chongqing and Chengdu, Kunming and Yunnan in general have been neglected. As reported by iFeng,
“Kunming is an important partner in the southwest region, and more British companies have expressed interest in greater trade opportunities in Kunming,” says Redfield. “Currently, the visa approval for mainland visitors is at 96 percent, and I believe that more people from Yunnan will see Britain as a choice destination for investment, travel, and further studies.”
Spreading awareness about UK tourist attractions comes at a good time for Britain, which recently announced relaxed visa requirements for mainland visitors visiting the United Kingdom. Furthermore, the opening of a direct route in the southwest China region between neighboring city Chengdu and London will help boost tourism from the region. Eased travel restrictions will certainly help retailers in the UK, which have been waiting with intense anticipation for an influx of Chinese travelers to rival European countries such as France.
Part of the event will be a showcase of British luxury goods. According to Go Kunming, when Redfield first came up with the proposal, local authorities were especially interested in British luxury retailers setting up shop in Kunming. “Interestingly, when we started talking to the local authorities here about doing British Week in Kunming, they were interested in running a series of events but were especially interested in UK retail brands,” Redfield says. “There is clearly an interest in buying from the UK and sourcing products from the UK.”
That is hardly surprising, as iFeng reports that British luxury brands such as Aston Martin and Burberry have done very well in Kunming. The city has also seen major investments from British hotel groups such as the InterContinental Hotels Group and Crowne Plaza.
Britain’s southwest China tour may have only just begun: once “British Week” is over in Kunming, the Consul-General says there might be plans to bring this to a weekend in September in nearby Chongqing.