Promoting Britain to Chinese tourists

Updated: 2013-07-01 15:40

By Liu Xiaozhuo (

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A cumbersome visa application process, a lack of Chinese tourism-related products and passive promoting are the main reasons Britain lags behind other European countries in terms of attracting Chinese mainland tourists, according to a Travelzoo report, the New York-listed online supplier of travel deals.

According to Jason Yap, CEO of Travelzoo Asia-Pacific, 1.15 million Chinese tourists went to France, and 180,000 to Britain last year. Favorite destinations for Chinese mainland outbound tourists include Australia, Maldives, Thailand, Taiwan, America, Italy, New Zealand, France, Switzerland and Japan. Britain is listed at 18 on the list. It was also reported that Chinese tourists spend 102 billion dollars overseas every year, with only 1 percent of that figure going to Britain.

Yap pointed out that if Britain does not take active measures like joining the Schengen Agreement to improve its current situation, it will lose the tourism race with France, Germany, Italy and other European countries. And the British tourism industry will suffer a loss of 1.5 billion dollars every year due to its deficiency of Chinese tourists who carry with them huge purchasing power.

The largest obstacle for Chinese tourists going to Britain is the difficulty behind the visa process. On one hand, it is a time and money consuming process. It takes Chinese applicants 15 days on average to receive a British visa, while only 10 days for a French visa. The British visa is 50% more expensive than that of France.

On the other hand, applicants can only go to Britain with a British visa as Britain is not in the Schengen Agreement.

Furthermore, the British Consulate does not have the same service consciousness as France does. Nor does it have offices in China’s second-tier cities.

As a result, Chinese travel agencies are trying to avoid sending tourists to Britain. CITS, the biggest travel agency in China, sent only 10,000 Chinese tourists to Britain last year, according to the CEO of CITS, Yu Ningning.

Recently, Britain has been trying to simplify the visa application process for Chinese tourists according to a Financial Times report.

Besides the visa application issue, the British tourism industry needs to improve the design and promotion of tourist products to address Chinese travel habits and requirements. Chinese tourists usually go abroad during the Spring Festival and National Day holidays.

Instead of spending leisure time in one place, they prefer to visit several places in one trip. Britain has been advised to increase tourist spots in England, North Ireland and Scotland together to attract more Chinese visitors.

On top of all this, it is not enough to attract Chinese tourists with only Big Ben or the Eye of London.

Britain needs to take full advantage of their cultural and tourist attractions that are very popular among Chinese people, such as universities like Oxford or its famous sport star, David Beckham.