Chinese spend in London's West End up 307% over Golden Week

Updated: 2016-10-11 23:37

By Chris Peterson and Angus McNeice in London(

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London's high streets benefited from a huge spike in Chinese shoppers over Golden Week this October, with sales to Chinese tourists in the West End up 307 percent on the same period last year.

The average transaction was 1,256 pounds per visit during the week commencing Oct. 3 - two days after the start of the national holiday - according to data collected by management services company New West End and financial services company Premier Tax Free.

Industry figures had predicted a profitable Golden Week this year due to the depreciation of the pound – a trip to the UK is now about 20 percent cheaper than it was this time last year, according to travel agency Ctrip.

Flight bookings are also up on last year - Tracey Edginton from tourism authority VisitBritain said preliminary data from ForwardKeys, an independent travel analyst, showed flight bookings from China for the period October-December this year were 24 percent higher than the same period in 2015.

As well as the weaker pound, Chinese visitors to Britain are being attracted by a marketing campaign in China being staged by VisitBritain.

The pound recently plunged to its lowest level against the dollar in 30 years, triggered by uncertainty over Britain's prospects after it leaves the European Union.

Britons voted by a narrow margin to leave the EU after over 40 years in June this year, and Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will initiate the formal departure process no later than March next year.

Last year was already a record year for Chinese visitors to the UK. VisitBritain released its annual report on Tuesday, revealing Chinese visitors to Britain soared by 46 percent last year, putting China into the top ten of the UK's most valuable tourism markets.

During 2015 Chinese visitors spent 586 million pounds during their time in the UK, an 18 percent increase over the previous year.

“This was a record for Chinese visitors and it has put China at number 9 in our Top ten most valuable markets,” said Alisha Lewis of VisitBritain.

The Top Ten is based on visitor-spend and the US topped the list with a spend of 3 billion pounds, followed by France and then Germany.

Tourism is worth an estimated 127 billion pounds a year to Britain, with inbound tourism accounting for 26 billion pounds a year and VisitBritain says that for every pound invested in promoting Britain as a destination, a foreign visitor spends 23 pounds.

“Tourism is a shining star in an uncertain world,” British Tourist Authority Chairman Christopher Rodrigues said.

“As our fourth biggest service export, and one of our fastest-growing sectors, tourism's importance as a key economic driver and job creator is clear. While the talk is of trade deals with new markets, tourism is already leading the way, competing strongly in our most valuable source markets such as the US and in markets that are crucial for our future, including China,” he said.

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