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Chinese tourists visiting UK up 40 per cent

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Visits from Chinese tourists to the UK were up 37 per cent in the first nine months of 2015, as a number of pro-China tourism initiatives started to take effect.

According to the latest figures from VisitBritain, there were a record 214,000 visits from China from January to September 2015 – beating the number of visits for the entire 12 months of 2014. But despite the large increase in visitor numbers, spend from Chinese tourists increased by a comparatively poor four per cent over the same period, reaching £435m.

In recent years, Britain has lagged several European rivals in attracting Chinese visitors, with efforts to boost these figures have been hampered by the various visa complications that have arisen due to UK falling outside of the Schengen Area – whereby one visa enables Chinese visitors to travel around the whole of continental Europe.

To counter this, Prime Minister David Cameron recently declared that the UK would extend multiple-entry visas for Chinese visitors to two years from six months. The visa extension was the UK’s latest in a long line of initiatives to overcome these issues and attract more Chinese tourists, following on from home secretary Theresa May’s single visa pilot announced in June.

Britain hopes to build on the positives of the latest visitor figures over the coming weeks as Chinese New Year approaches on 8 February, one of the prime times of travel for the Chinese. Chinese visitors are already some of the UK’s highest spenders, spending on average £2,688 a head, while VisitBritain hopes to double overall spend from Chinese visitors to £1bn by 2020.

“China is the world’s largest outbound market and a huge tourism opportunity for Britain,” said VisitBritain director Patricia Yates.

“Chinese New Year is traditionally one of the busiest travel times for Chinese travellers and we want Britain to be at the top of their list as a must-go-now destination.”

VisitBritain has forecast that growth in inbound tourism looks set to continue in 2016 for numbers and spend.

In spite of the strength of Sterling, spending by overseas visitors is predicted to reach almost £23bn in 2016, a 4.2 per cent increase on last year. The number of overseas visitors to the UK is expected to rise to 36.7 million visits, up 3.8 per cent on 2015.

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Visits from Chinese tourists to the UK were up 37 per cent in the first nine months of 2015, as a number of pro-China tourism initiatives started to take effect.
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Chinese tourists typically spend four times more than the average visitor to the UK / Shutterstock.com / Maridav
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