The UK is trying to build on its momentum of record-breaking Chinese visitors — and money — into the country.
Nearly 532,000 visitor visas for the UK were issued to Chinese residents last year, and Global Blue, a tourism tax refund company, found that Chinese visitors accounted for 25 per cent of all the tax-free shopping at London’s West End in 2017.
They also made up 43 per cent of all tax-free shopping worldwide last year — Chinese tourists spent the most in 2016 at $261.1b (£187.85b) — and those numbers, Global Blue predicted, are only set to grow.
So the UK China Visa Alliance wants to capitalise on this opportunity by expanding its focus on the full UK experience for Chinese visitors — not just their visa processes — and is therefore changing its name tomorrow to the UK China Visitors Alliance.
The rebranded alliance is additionally partnering with VisitBritain to launch a Chinese Visitors Working Group, which will work towards attracting more Chinese visitors to the country.
“Delivering a welcoming, hassle-free experience for visitors and tour operators will give us a critical competitive edge and keep us on the tourist map,” Jasmine Whitbread, the chief executive of London First, said. “We’ve made it simpler for Chinese visitors to come to the UK as part of a European trip — and our shops, theatres, hotels and restaurants are seeing the benefits.”
Chinese tourists drive the tax-free shopping industry, so the newly formed Chinese Visitors Working Group plans to employ a holistic approach to attracting more Sino people into the country, which includes continuing the recently implemented streamlined visa application process.
This was the first year that the UK outperformed the Eurozone for attracting Chinese tourists. The country will increasingly rely on tourism money as the UK approaches its European Union exit.