Visitor characteristics

  • Chinese visitors tend to be younger than the average visitor to the UK: about 46% of visits from China were made by people aged 16-34 years old in 2018
  • Those visiting Britain from China are more likely than average to be making their first visit: only 30% of the holidaymakers from China departing the UK in 2015 (excluding British expats) had already visited the UK within the past 10 years
  • Almost all holiday visitors from China are Chinese nationals
  • 73% of departing staying holidaymakers from China (excluding British expats) were ‘extremely likely’ to recommend Britain for a holiday or short-break in 2017

Popular activities

Dining in a restaurant

Visited Parks/ Gardens

Went Shopping

Global context

International tourism expenditure (US$bn)277.3
Global rank for international tourism expenditure1
Number of outbound visits incl. Hong Kong and Macao (m)97.7
Number of outbound visits excl. Hong Kong and Macao (m)65.8
Most visited destination overallHong Kong
Most visited destination overall (excl. Hong Kong and Macao)Thailand
Most visited destination in Western EuropeFrance

Key demographic and economic data

Population (m)1,415.6
GDP per capita PPP (US$)16,967
Annual average GDP growth over past decade (%)7.9
Annual average GDP growth in the past year (%)6.2

Inbound visits to Britain from China

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Number of visits

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Total expenditure (GBP)

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Total nights spent

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Average length of stay (Nights)


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Average spend per visit (GBP)

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What the Chinese think about Britain

  • Chinese respondents to the 2018 Anholt Nation Brands Index usually hold a positive opinion of Britain: they ranked it second overall compared to 49 other nations, up two places on 2017. They also ranked Britain second for their perception of both tourism in Britain and the British culture, both rankings improving one place on 2017
  • The Chinese associate Britain highly with ‘museums’, and also films and sports
  • The Chinese expect that a trip to Britain would be 'educational' and 'fascinating'
  • Key motivators of holidays include ‘enjoying the beauty of the landscape’, ‘feeling connected to nature’ and ‘having fun and laughter’, with Australia considered the ‘best place’ to indulge in all three

Caring for visitors

  • It is important to appreciate cultural differences
  • Visitors appreciate ‘support’ in the form of Chinese language facilities (signage, Mandarin-speaking staff, Chinese TV channels, for example)
  • Spicy food is a favourite, and if the younger and more aflluent Chinese travellers are more exposed to the Western culture and food, there is still a preference for Chinese food among many
  • Mobile payments are becoming more and more popular in China, and travellers appreciate being able to use those abroad as well

The leisure & travel trade

  • If the FIT (Free and Independent Travel) segment keeps growing, travel agents still play a vital role in China, especially among the first-time long-haul travellers for their convenience and help they provide on language barriers or visa processes
  • There are 200+ recognised travel agents under the ‘Approved Destination Status’ agreement in China: they are the only agents who can process leisure ADS visa applications, and thus operate leisure tours
  • If visiting the trade in China it is important to take an interpreter/guide, to prepare business cards to exchange, and to be punctual and well-prepared

Access to Britain from China

Weekly aircraft departures70
Weekly seat capacity18,583
Airports with direct routes in China11
Airports with direct routes in Britain4
  • Direct seat capacity on non-stopping flights from China to Britain has grown by almost 75% between 2013 and 2018 thanks to new flights, including flights from Sanya, Changsha, Shenzhen, Wuhan, and Xi'An launched in 2018, as well as a route to Edinburgh*
  • Nine airlines currently operate flights from China to Britain
  • Departing Britain for China by air incurs an Air Passenger Duty of £78 in economy class
  • Visitors from China require a visa to visit Britain. Since 2016 a new scheme automatically upgrades Chinese applications for a six-month standard visa to a two-year multi-entry one, at the same cost (£95)


*2018 data