China Welcome initiative announced

• SoS Maria Miller announces China Welcome campaign in Shanghai
• New partnership between Birmingham Airport and CAISSA
• Target to secure 650,000 Chinese visitors spending £1.1 billion by 2020 across Britain

Today, as part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s three-day visit to China, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Maria Miller, announced an initiative to make Britain the most welcoming destination in Europe for Chinese visitors.

VisitBritain’s China Welcome campaign, launching in the Spring of 2014, will showcase, promote and develop how the UK travel industry caters to the needs of Chinese visitors. Founding members who have committed to the initiative - including Virgin Atlantic, Marketing Manchester, Marketing Birmingham, Hilton Worldwide, Celtic Manor in Wales, the John Lewis partnership, Bicester Village, Harrods and The Roman Baths in Bath - are already providing information in Mandarin, adapting their product offer and attracting a significant number of Chinese visitors as a result. VisitBritain will work with businesses to build on this progress, sharing customer insights, raising cultural awareness and encouraging the training of qualified Mandarin-speaking guides - as well as translated websites and visitor literature - to ensure that Chinese visitors to Britain get as much out of their trip as possible.

VisitBritain has already endorsed UKInbound’s launch of the first Chinese Tour Guide Accreditation Scheme in the UK. Courses will start in London in February, with support from Capela Training, China Holidays and London & Partners.

Today’s China Welcome announcement, taking place at an event on the Shanghai Bund, was also a call for more tourism businesses to sign up and get involved. Signatories will benefit from an increased competitive edge, better recognition from Chinese tourists and, subsequently, more business from China.

At the event Maria Miller also announced that Birmingham Airport and CAISSA - supporters of China Welcome - are working together to increase the number of Chinese visitors CAISSA brings into the UK through Birmingham Airport.  The partnership between Birmingham and CAISSA will see the development of new holiday packages and the introduction of special initiatives designed to welcome the Chinese visitor arriving at Birmingham Airport, an airport at the heart of Shakespeare's England.

Tourism spend and visits from China have soared in the latest 2013 figures. The Chinese inbound market has grown faster in percentage terms than any other of VisitBritain’s twenty-two priority markets, with spend up by 132% (to £181m) and visits up by 21% in the first half of 2013 compared to the first half of 2012.¹ The combined effect of improved aviation capacity, streamlined visa processing, VisitBritain’s marketing efforts under the GREAT banner and the China Welcome programme aims to secure 650,000 Chinese visits a year by 2020, worth nearly £1.1 billion annually to the UK economy.

Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said of the campaign:“Britain is very much open for business and this is just the beginning. We want businesses from up and down the country to get involved, sign up and be part of this new game-changing initiative.

“The new ‘China Welcome’ initiative shows how serious we are about making sure Britain is ahead of the competition when it comes to attracting Chinese businesses and tourists. We are determined to encourage more Chinese people come to our shores, enjoy our culture, heritage, food, sport, shopping, countryside and music and invest in our country.”

Sandie Dawe, CEO of VisitBritain added:“In the last twelve months China has become the largest tourism source market in the world, worth $102 billion. We want to make sure that Britain competes effectively for this market, helping the industry to develop products and services that appeal to Chinese visitors and making sure that the message of the GREAT British welcome is widely promoted.”

Earlier this month VisitBritain held its biggest China trade mission to date in Chengdu, with 43 UK suppliers meeting over 75 Chinese buyers. In September, British Airways launched a new direct route from Chengdu to Heathrow.

                                                                   ENDS

1.    Figures from the Office for National Statistics relate to Q1 and Q2 of 2013
 
2.    VisitBritain’s priority markets: Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, USA
 
3.     Companies currently signed up to China Welcome. For any media quotes from these companies, please contact: sarah.runnacles@visitbritain.org

Bicester Village
Birmingham Airport
Blenheim Palace
China Britain Travel Group Ltd
easyJet
Gretna Green Famous Blacksmiths Shop
Harrods
Hilton Worldwide
John Lewis
London & Partners
Manchester Airport
Marketing Birmingham
Marketing Manchester
McArthurGlen Designer Outlets
Selfridges
Shakespeare’s England
The Celtic Manor Resort
The Roman Baths and Pump Room
Virgin Atlantic
Wimbledon LT Museum