Huge Growth Means Huge Opportunities


Quite simply, China is the fastest-growing tourism market in the world. This remarkable trend has been fuelled by a huge expansion in China’s middle class, their increasing prosperity and disposable income, rapid urbanization and relaxed restrictions on foreign travel. For many Chinese today, travel is a form of building self-esteem and status.

With a population of 1.4 billion, and new-found access to foreign cultures, China’s outbound tourist growth is translating into some of the most remarkable statistics and staggering potential the travel industry has seen.

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  • The biggest market: In 2014, an estimated 110 million Chinese travelled abroad, a near 20% increase on 2013. In 2015 numbers are expected to exceed 130 million and studies predict figures could reach 200 million by 2020.
  • The most valuable market: Chinese outbound expenditure rose by 27% in 2013 to US$128.6 billion, making China not only the largest market but also the largest spender for outbound travel. A Chinese tourist typically spends 3-4 times that of the average tourist.
  • As more independent Chinese travellers look beyond Asia-Pacific for long haul vacations, Britain is remarkably well positioned to tap into this growth with its reputation for heritage, culture, beautiful landscapes, safety and world-class shopping.
  • VisitBritain says between 2012 and 2014 spend by Chinese visitors in Britain grew by over two thirds, helping to make China the UK’s 12th largest source market for bed nights.
  • The Chinese are now also our highest spending visitors, spending almost £2,700 per head during their trips to Britain.
  • With increased airline capacity, including Air China’s recent doubling of Beijing – London flights, simplifying of visa processing to run parallel with the Schengen system, together with 24 hour visa options and access via the Irish visa, VisitBritain also estimates Chinese visitors could more than double to over 450,000 by 2021.
    • Coming from a country with a significant gift-giving culture and where prized branded goods are limited and more expensive, the opportunity to buy luxury items at a lower price and with VAT refunds drives retail spending levels to triple that of other nations visiting the UK. Barclays Bank estimates expenditure could exceed $1 billion as early as 2017.
  • Chinese visitors also have a well-above-average 10 day stay length and a much higher propensity to travel beyond London to other British regions and nations.
  • The 2014 Anhold Gfk Nations Brand Index (NBI) study, showed China ranked Britain in second place out of 50 nations for tourism, one place higher than 2013 – when it lay behind the USA and Germany. And in a study of aspirational places to visit, if money was no object, the Chinese rated Britain fourth, a jump of five places in a year. The FT’s ‘China Confidential’ market survey even puts Britain in the top three long haul wish-list destinations.
  • VisitBritain’s own ‘GREAT China Welcome’ program, so far adopted by almost 300 British tourism and hospitality suppliers, is helping to position Britain as the most welcoming destination in Europe for Chinese travellers

‘Destination Britain’ is perfectly positioned to deliver the message of those British tourism suppliers looking to tap into this huge growth, especially in light of the long awaited simplifying of the UK visa process. It will provide targeted support to suppliers who already have a Chinese initiative or local representation while offering a highly cost-effective option for those who wish to begin targeting Chinese tourists with a simple one-stop print, digital and social media package.