Partnership a further boost to UK tourism

By BO LEUNG | China Daily UK | Updated: 2016-12-06 18:24

The Chinese travel boom in Britain is likely to get even bigger, now Hainan Airline and ecommerce giant Alitrip, Alibaba's tourism arm, have teamed up with the official UK tourism body, VisitBritain, in a bid to attract more visitors.

The announcement came as Karen Bradley, the UK's minister for culture, media and sport, and VisitBritain director Patricia Yates met executives from the two Chinese companies in Shanghai on Monday as part of the fourth UK-China People to People Dialogue.

The UK tourism agency hopes that, by 2020, Chinese tourists will double their spending in the UK to 1 billion pounds ($1.2 billion).

Hainan Airlines, which has a long-term strategic partnership with VisitBritain, has applied to the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration for five new airline routes into Britain as part of a new air service agreement between the two countries.

And VisitBritain has partnered with Alitrip to create an online British marketplace on its digital platform. It will promote destinations across Britain to potential Chinese visitors and offer etravel products and packages.

"They will learn about the UK, fall in love with the UK and ultimately make the UK part of their future or current travel plans," said Jerry Hu, Alitrip's senior vice-president.

VisitBritain's Yates said: "By amplifying our marketing reach in China with Alitrip showcasing the diversity of experiences and destinations across Britain, we are converting the inspiration to visit into bookings, driving our ambitious plans for growth."

Amy Gray, head of tourism affairs at VisitBritain, told China Daily the Alitrip partnership "has potential to attract lots of young travelers who can see the best that Britain has to offer".

Chinese tourists spend longer and travel more widely in Britain than other international visitors. They also spend more-splashing out 2,174 pounds a visit. But China only moved into Britain's top 10 most-valuable inbound tourists for the first time last year.

In 2015, visits from China increased 46 percent, to almost 270,000 year-on-year, with Chinese visitors spending 586 million pounds.

According to flight data website ForwardKeys, the number of Chinese people who will spend Christmas in the UK this year is up 37 percent on last year.

James Kennell, a tourism lecturer at the University of Greenwich, told China Daily: "Britain needs to attract more Chinese tourists over the next 10 years to ensure that the tourism industry benefits from the dramatic growth of the world's most important international tourism market."

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