Thomas Cook is targeting China's Man U supporters

By Chris Peterson | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-01-04 10:24

Thomas Cook is targeting China's Man U supporters

Chinese fans watch Manchester City training during International Champions Cup China held in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, July 27, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

Leading UK travel agent Thomas Cook, which invented the holiday travel package back in the 19th century, has formed a joint venture with Chinese investment conglomerate Fosun International to tap into English Premier League soccer club Manchester United's vast fan base in China.

The joint venture, Thomas Cook China, is offering what it calls the official "Old Trafford Match Break" experience to the estimated 108 million Manchester United followers in China.

The package includes flights, hotel accommodation, and tickets for a home game, as well as a visit to the Manchester United Museum and Stadium Tour Centre. There are various other options available, including a VIP package that involves a meal at the stadium.

Alessandro Dassi, general manager of Thomas Cook China, said: "With a fan base of more than 100 million, Manchester United's popularity in China has no equal. Thomas Cook has been a partner to the club in the UK and Europe for over a decade and we are delighted to extend this exclusive partnership into China."

Manchester United Group Managing Director Richard Arnold said: "Our partnership with Thomas Cook is a long-standing one, and we're delighted it has been extended to China."

Thomas Cook's exclusive deal with Manchester United means the China package is not on offer anywhere else.

By 2017, Chinese visitor numbers to the UK are expected to top 250,000 a year, with the annual spend reaching more than 1 billion pounds ($1.23 billion), according to industry estimates.

Easier visa rules and a sustained weakness in sterling are expected to attract more Chinese visitors, and Thomas Cook's joint venture with Fosun is clearly trying to tap into that market.

The Manchester United package has proved to be the most popular in Thomas Cook China's range of offerings, which include Formula One motor sport, the Wimbledon open tennis championships, and a number of classic horse races, according to Matthew Magee, senior corporate communications manager at Thomas Cook in London.

In addition to the deal, Chinese fans will be able to take advantage of packages built round the club's participation in the current European league.

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