The number of Chinese tourists visiting the UK has risen by more than 800pc in 10 years — and they are spending more on tax-free shopping than visitors from anywhere else in the world.
LONDON – New figures released by global payments service WorldPay reveal that Chinese visitors to the UK spent an average of £737 per trip last year – a 50% year-on-year increase. However due to the UK’s comparatively complicated visa policies for Chinese tourists, the UK attracted just 7% of all Chinese visitors to Europe, costing retailers in London’s West End around £168m in potential sales, according to shopping consultancy Global Blue.
While steps have been taken to make the UK’s system easier for Chinese business leaders visiting the UK, and talks are underway with tour operators to streamline the process for these visitors, a recent report from Hotels.com suggests that this approach could mean that the UK misses out on the growing trends for Chinese people to book travel independently. The Chinese International Travel Monitor report shows that 62% of Chinese residents now book holidays independently, with this shift being led by younger travellers, who are more confident booking online.
Commenting, Nigel Pocklington at the Hotels.com brand said: “With 100 million Chinese citizens predicted to travel abroad each year by 2015, the boom in Chinese tourism offers a huge opportunity for the UK. However, with our research showing that a fifth of Chinese travellers cite ease of visa application as a key consideration, the UK’s system needs to be simplified. As with other European countries like France and Italy, the UK should at least consider making applications forms available in Mandarin to capitalise on the rise in independent travellers. Aside from benefiting the UK’s tourism industry, relaxing restrictions on visas could provide a big boost for retailers and the wider economy.”