Britain is ready to take a bigger slice of the valuable Chinese tourism market

Courtney Goldsmith
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First Chinese Tourists To Visit UK Go Sightseeing
VisitBritain hopes Chinese tourists will spend £1bn in the UK by 2020 (Source: Getty)

VisitBritain has teamed up with Hainan Airlines and Alitrip, Alibaba Group's tourism arm, to increase travel from the world's most valuable outbound market.

Chinese visitors to the UK stay longer, spend more and travel more widely across Britain than other international visitors, but the group only moved into Britain's top 10 most valuable inbound markets for the first time last year.

Tourists from China stay an average of 15 nights compared to eight and spend more than three times the average tourist, splashing out £2,174 on average. For every 22 additional Chinese visitors Britain attracts, a new job in tourism in the UK is supported.

Read more: VisitBritain targets 10m more international tourists a year

UK secretary of state for culture, media and sport Karen Bradley and VisitBritain director Patricia Yates met with senior executives from Hainan Airlines and Alitrip today in Shanghai as part of the fourth UK-China people to people dialogue in an effort to double spending from Chinese visitors to £1bn by 2020.

Five new airline routes into Britain are sought after by Hainan Airlines who announced an application to the Chinese aviation administration.

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Flights booked from China to the UK from November this year to January 2017 are up 17 per cent year-on-year, while last year record-breaking numbers of Chinese visitors came to the UK and spent a total of £586m.

VisitBritain is also partnered with Alitrip to create a British virtual marketplace on the e-commerce company's digital platform, which is available to millions of Chinese consumers.

Alitrip will amplify Britain's marketing reach in China by "converting the inspiration to visit into bookings", Yates said.

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The Alitrip platform reaches more than 200m users and will allow Chinese tourists to “learn about the UK, fall in love with the UK and ultimately make the UK part of their future or current travel plans”, Alitrip senior vice president Jerry Hu said.

Chinese tourists are more interested than ever before in visiting the UK, Hu added.

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