by Josh Lew
Last updated: 8:00 PM ET, Fri November 20, 2015
VisitBritain will be hosting a major tourism event in Beijing next week. Retailers, hotels and tour operators from the UK will take part in what has become known as "Destination Britain China." This meeting has been taking place annually since 2009, but this year's event will be the biggest yet.
VisitBritain's efforts come after the results of the annual Anholt GfK Nations Brand Index survey showed that the country scored very highly among Chinese tourists. The people surveyed ranked Great Britain first in terms of cultural attractions, second as a place that they would visit if money was no object and third when it came to the perception of being welcoming to foreign tourists.
In pole position in the race to enter the Chinese market
Everyone is rushing to get their share of China's growing outbound market. However, the Nations Brand Index results show that the UK could have an advantage over other countries because of the positive image that it already has among Chinese travelers. VisitBritain's goal: create a tourism scene for Chinese travelers that is worth £1 billion by 2020. They are already well on their way to doing this.
It is not just the number of Chinese tourists that has tourism bureaus excited, it is the amount of money that these travelers spend. Chinese tourists in Britain currently spend an average of £2,688 per person per visit. That is one of the highest spending amounts of any nationality that visits the UK.
The tourism delegation at Destination Britain China will have a chance to make contact with over 100 buyers from a number of cities in Mainland China (as well as Hong Kong). According to VisitBritain, 700 appointments are scheduled with Chinese agencies and buyers. The most important part of the event, however, could be the unveiling of the newly redesigned GREAT China Welcome program.
Making Chinese tourists feel welcome in the UK
GREAT China Welcome includes a directory of companies that have adopted practices that are meant to make travel in the UK easier for Chinese tourists. The criteria for joining the directory includes having first-hand experience with Chinese tourists in the past two years, Mandarin and/or Cantonese-speaking staff, a web site or literature that includes a Chinese translation, and guest-facing staff that have been trained in Chinese culture and customs.
Any business that is able to meet the criteria can apply to join the GREAT China Welcome program. According to VisitBritain, companies can be "publicly or privately owned and there is no minimum size." This could be good news for smaller firms that want to expand into this particular niche.
Beijing and London agree to jointly develop tourism
Tourism development is also taking place on a higher level. Last month, the UK and Beijing signed a Memorandum of Understanding that included an agreement to hold annual talks about tourism development with China's National Tourism Administration.
Because of the number of outbound travelers and their spending habits, China is a priority for tourism promoters around the world. Because many of China's potential travelers already see Great Britain in a positive light, it is in a great position to get a significant portion of the Middle Kingdom's outbound market.
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