A cumbersome visa system, no Chinese language brochures. Those are just a few of the barriers the UK and London have in place to stop more Chinese tourists from visiting their country, almost ten years after the first groups were allowed in, hospitality expert Roy Graff tells Christine Lu in the Jing Daily.
The retail industry in London is very happy with Chinese consumers; we just need more of them. Britain was late to this game since the EU signed the ADS agreement two years earlier. At that time, the vast majority of Chinese tourists came in large groups and travelled by coach across Europe to visit as many landmarks as they could. But in the last 5 years, what became very clear is that Chinese outspend most other nationalities when they travel, and the rate of growth overall has surpassed 15% every year. In 2005, the UN WTO (World Tourism Organisation) predicted that Chinese outbound tourists will number 100 million by 2020. It has since revised that date to 2015, and recently the president of China said he believed 200 million Chinese will travel abroad by 2020!
For the UK, I’ve long argued that the focus should be squarely on high net worth individuals and small groups of discerning tourists. It would be better to have 400,000 Chinese who spend £3000 on their visit than a million who spend £1000. In 2005, the idea that Chinese would outspend Americans, Japanese, and even Middle Eastern tourists seemed ridiculous, but this is fast becoming the reality…
I think you have similar appeal in New York City, Paris, Hong Kong, and Singapore–globally famous cosmopolitan cities that have a unique, distinct set of characteristics. Many of China’s cities have developed to resemble each other so this uniqueness is a draw. London has a long established Chinese diaspora community and a thriving China town. It is an education and business centre and had historical ties to China.
Despite London having higher prices than Europe for shopping, the sales offer great value and the selection is world class. Prices are still much cheaper than China. Chinese love value, so getting 12 to 15 percent off for VAT refund at the airport is great.
China Weekly Hangout
Roy Graff will join us on Thursday 20 June at the China Weekly Hangout to discuss what Chinese tourists want (apart from quick visa and Chinese brochures). Getting Chinese tourists to your country, and letting them spend is an art in itself. Here is our announcement, or you can register directly at our event page.
Getting tourists might not be the UK’s strongest asset, education is doing much better. The China Weekly Hangout discussed the future of Chinese students when they start an international study? Andrew Hupert, formerly working for the NYU Shanghai campus and Paul Fox, lecturer at the HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education joined Fons Tuinstra, president of the China Speakers Bureau.