Visitor characteristics

  • Chinese visitors tend to be younger than the average visitor to the UK: half of Chinese visitors were aged 25-44 in 2016
  • 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) were repeating a visit they made within the past 10 years
  • Almost all holiday visitors from China are Chinese nationals
  • 73% of departing visitors are ‘extremely likely’ to recommend Britain for a holiday or short-break

Popular activities

Visited a Museum or Art Gallery

Visited Parks/ Gardens

Went Shopping

Global context

International tourism expenditure (US$bn)261.1
Global rank for international tourism expenditure1
Number of outbound visits incl. Hong Kong and Macao (m)85.0
Number of outbound visits excl. Hong Kong and Macao (m)57.3
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)1,404.1
GDP per capita PPP (US$)13,802
Annual average GDP growth over past decade (%)9.0
Annual average GDP growth in the past year (%)6.7

Inbound visits to Britain

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Seasonality (Share of visits)

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Regional spread (Share of visits)

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What the Chinese think about Britain

  • In the 2016 Nations Brand Index Survey sentiment regarding Britain was very positive as they ranked Britain third overall compared to 49 other nations
  • However two areas of relative weakness for Britain remain: perceptions of ‘welcome’ and of ‘natural beauty’
  • Britain is highly associated with ‘museums’, but the Chinese little associate Britain with 'circus' or  'pop videos'
  • The Chinese are more likely to expect a trip to Britain to be 'spiritual', 'relaxing' or 'romantic' than is the typical inbound visitor
  • Key motivators of holidays include ‘enjoy the beauty of the landscape’, ‘feel connected to nature’ and ‘have 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
  • Spicy food is a favourite and there is a preference for Chinese food

The leisure & travel trade

  • Travel agents play a vital role in China, with major reasons for consumers preferring to use an agent including  convenience, language barriers, visa preparation, knowledge gaps and value
  • There are around 700+ licensed agents - only about 100 are capable of handling Europe/UK bound trips
  • The best time to visit is March to early April and mid-October to early December
  • If visiting the trade in China it is important to take an interpreter/guide

Access to Britain from China

Weekly aircraft departures58
Weekly seat capacity15,144
Airports with direct routes in China5
Airports with direct routes in Britain3
  • Monthly airline seat capacity from China to Britain has grown by almost 75% since 2011 thanks to new flights, including flights from Guangzhou to London Heathrow, from Beijing to Manchester and from Chongqing to London Heathrow*
  • Seven airlines currently operate flights from China to Britain
  • Departing Britain for China by air incurs an Air Passenger Duty of £75 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 (£89)

*2016 data