The UK saw strong growth from China during the first nine months of 2017 with spending up 48% and visits up 33%, with VisitBritain estimating full year figures of about 330,000 visits and spending of about £667 million. Forecasts for 2018 are predicting about 349,000 visits from China to the UK with visitors spending about £722 million. Visits from China to the UK more than doubled in the decade to 2016.
Chinese New Year, which gets underway on 16 February, is a prime time for travel for the Chinese, and the UK is gearing up to host some of the largest celebrations outside Asia.
From three days of celebrations in Liverpool, parades in Manchester and lion dances in Birmingham, to festivals and performances in Durham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, NewcastleGateshead and the Isle of Wight, as well as London’s Chinatown and Trafalgar Square, there are a host of events across the UK.
VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said:
“We want the UK to be the destination of choice for visitors from China, the world’s most valuable outbound market. We’re building on the growth we have seen, launching a new campaign in China showcasing that Britain is bursting with fun activities and wonderfully unexpected experiences all year round.
“And we are working with commercial partners such as BA and Ctrip to convert the inspiration to visit into bookings, making it easier to travel here and explore more of the UK, driving our ambitious plans for growth.”
VisitBritain’s digital marketing campaign ‘I Travel For...’ launched last week in China. It shines the spotlight, through short films and images, on Britain’s unexpected experiences and less-explored destinations, alongside globally renowned and iconic cultural landmarks and attractions. The campaign aligns motivations to travel with experiences that can only be had here, inspiring visitors from China to ‘Find Your GREAT Britain’ and book a trip right now. The campaign is part of the UK Government’s global GREAT Britain campaign.
Chinese visitors are some of the UK’s highest spenders, spending on average £1,972 during their visit, more than three times the all market average. They also stay longer on their holidays in Britain than other international visitors, averaging 10 nights compared to six for other markets.
Every 22 additional Chinese visitors that Britain attracts supports an additional job in tourism in the UK.
VisitBritain’s ambition is to double spend from Chinese visitors in the UK to £1 billion annually by 2020.
Tourism is worth £127 billion to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across its nations and regions.
How the UK is celebrating Chinese New Year:
- 16 February marks the start of Chinese New Year - the Year of the Dog.
- Liverpool is holding three days of celebrations from 16-18 February in Chinatown. Projections, music and light will illuminate the Chinese Arch telling stories of the city’s Chinese history and culture. The Chinese New Year celebrations are part of Liverpool’s 'China Dream' season with Liverpool showcasing contemporary Chinese arts and culture from February to October 2018, during which the acclaimed international art exhibition ‘China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors’ will be hosted at Liverpool’s World Museum.
- London’s events include a colourful parade from Charing Cross to Chinatown and performances in Trafalgar Square with food and family zones in Leicester Square and martial arts performances in Shaftesbury Ave.
- Manchester is putting on its annual Dragon Parade, led by a spectacular 175-foot dragon, ending in Chinatown. There will also be traditional lion dancing, martial arts displays and food stalls.
- Birmingham is putting on its biggest Chinese New Year celebrations to date – double the size of previous years and held in the city’s Chinese Quarter – with festivities including lion dances, funfair rides, street food and a host of traditional Chinese entertainment.
- NewcastleGateshead - Chinese New Year festivities will be bigger and better after a successful crowdfunding campaign. Expect a vibrant parade including dragon, lion and unicorn dances. In addition to floats and various performances including Chinese folk dances and children's dragon dance, colourful flags and banners will be displayed. The proposed route is from The Monument/Old Eldon Square to Chinatown (Stowell Street).
- Edinburgh is holding a Chinese New Year Concert. The event sees a variety of performances, including the winner of the Riccardo Zamboni 2010 award, the tenor Han Peng, as well as soprano Lili Zhao, Guzheng virtuoso recording artist Chen Yehui, and 2014 BBC Young Musician wind instrument finalist, British-Chinese flautist Daniel Shao, with the Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra.
- Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is hosting its first ever Chinese New Year celebrations on 17 February, with a traditional Double Guan Yin Chinese Lion dance accompanied by a drummer, with Chinese street food in the Great Court.
- Visitors to the Isle of Wight can experience a spectacle of themed light, sound and entertainment at ‘Electric Woods’, Robin Hill’s ‘Spirit of the Orient’ event featuring entertainment, interactive lantern parades and traditional lion dancing.
- Durham’s Oriental Museum is holding a late night opening on 24 February to mark the end of Chinese New Year and the Lunar New Year Lantern Festival. Visitors can see the museum lit by lanterns, enjoy traditional craft, and listen to stories.
- Glasgow - Join Kelvin Hall, The Riverside Museum and Kelvingrove Museum for Chinese New Year, where you can enjoy lots of activities including a fun family trail and a lion dance between all three venues.