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Chinese tourist numbers soar in Edinburgh

By Bo Leung | | Updated: 2018-02-21 00:51
The Edinburgh Castle, one of the city's main attractions. [Photo/VCG]

A social media campaign to attract more Chinese visitors to the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, has been hailed a success with tourist numbers shooting up by 40 percent.

The Edinburgh Chinese Social Media Campaign was launched in November 2016 by the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group and has gained almost 60,000 followers and received 66 million hits across its channels, according to the country’s national tourist board, VisitScotland.

The campaign used influential Chinese social media Weibo and WeChat to push Edinburgh as a must-see destination for visitors from China, offering travel tips, itineraries and promotions in Mandarin, from the city’s most popular tourism businesses. It also recommended key points of interest for Chinese travelers, such as history, architecture, film locations and shopping.

Edinburgh is the most popular UK destination after London, and Scotland’s capital aims to double the number of Chinese tourists by 2020.

VisitScotland, which funded the 40,000-pound ($56,000) campaign with its Growth Fund award, said it has been a dynamic and influential collaboration of China-focused businesses, securing 21 private sector industry partners, as well as providing Chinese social media briefings to 75 businesses.

“The support from Edinburgh’s tourism businesses - as well as VisitScotland’s Growth Fund and Scottish Enterprise - has enabled the destination’s first ever social media channels in China to exceed all our expectations,” said Rob Lang, chair of Edinburgh Tourism Action Group’s China Ready Initiative.

Edinburgh businesses seeing the benefits include Edinburgh Castle, Haggis Backpackers, which saw a 20 percent increase in Chinese visitor numbers, and Laing the Jeweller, which reported a 40 percent rise.

Edinburgh Castle figures reveal that more than 177,000 visitors of Chinese origin visited the attraction last year.

Graham Kelly, VisitScotland market manager China & East Asia, said, “The Chinese market has huge growth potential for tourism in Scotland so it’s fantastic to see the phenomenal success of the Chinese Social Media Campaign…and I look forward to welcoming many more Chinese visitors as this campaign continues to go from strength to strength.”

It’s not just Edinburgh reaping the rewards of the tourism market.

According to VisitScotland, attractions around Loch Ness, including the medieval fortress of Urquhart Castle and cruising company Loch Ness by Jacobite, demonstrated above-average growth.

Both attractions are benefiting from around 30,000 visits per year from a tour operator specializing in the Chinese market.

“Loch Ness continues to grow as a popular tourist destination year-on-year,” said Freda Newton, managing director of Loch Ness by Jacobite.

“2017 saw record breaking passenger numbers as we welcomed (a total of) almost 300,000 visitors on board our Loch Ness by Jacobite Cruises. 2018 looks set to follow in this positive way.”

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