More than half of UK holidaymakers are interested in visiting China, reveals research from World Travel Market London, released today (Monday 2 November).
The findings could herald a boom in British holidays to China – especially as the destination has been in the spotlight recently, thanks to the state visit to Britain by China’s President Xi Jinping.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron and President Xi hailed a “golden era” in UK-China relations, as the red carpet was rolled out for the Chinese delegation last month.
More than 1,000 UK holidaymakers and 2,050 industry executives were quizzed for the World Travel Market 2015 Industry Report unveiled at WTM London – the leading global event for the travel industry.
Researchers found that 18% of respondents in the holidaymakers survey were ‘very interested’ and 33% were ‘quite interested’ in China when asked about visiting a range of countries – giving a total of 51% who said they were interested.
When travel trade executives were questioned, the survey found that nearly 1,400 of the 2,050 respondents conduct business in China.
More than a quarter (28%) expect their Chinese business will see a significant increase during 2016, and 43% anticipate a slight increase.
More than 570,000 British nationals visit mainland China every year but the pent-up desire to visit and recent diplomatic moves look set to boost this number.
President Xi and his wife were hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace during the state visit, which was covered extensively in the Chinese and UK media.
He also travelled to Manchester and announced the first direct air service from Manchester Airport to mainland China. Hainan Airlines will operate flights to Beijing from next June.
The state visit came weeks after a high-profile trade mission to China by the British Chancellor George Osborne, and the announcement of UK-China agreements to boost tourism and cultural links.
The Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, Arts Minister Ed Vaizey and Tourism and Sports Minister Tracey Crouch met their Chinese counterparts in London in September to agree a Memorandum of Understanding for tourism.
The deal will see the UK hold “an annual dialogue on tourism exchange with the China National Tourism Administration and increase strategic co-operation on tourism through improving travel connections between the UK and China and facilitating relationships between the UK and Chinese travel trade”.
Many UK-based operators already feature holidays in China, from Abercrombie & Kent to Wendy Wu Tours.
The founder of Wendy Wu Tours, Wendy Wu, said the state visit had prompted a sharp rise in booking enquiries.
The China National Tourism Administration and Wendy Wu will be at WTM London this week.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), travel and tourism in China will grow 7.5% in 2015, faster than the 6.8% growth rate predicted for the wider economy.
China is the second biggest travel and tourism economy in the world, behind the US, and by the end of 2015, the travel and tourism sector will contribute 9.5% of China’s GDP.
And, according to WTTC forecasts, the sector has the potential to contribute 94 million jobs and 10.3% of GDP to the Chinese economy by 2025.
The UK Government and VisitBritain are also keen to woo Chinese visitors to Britain.
Cameron announced during the state visit that the British Government would be making it easier and cheaper for Chinese travellers to obtain visas to visit the UK – a move that was warmly welcomed by trade bodies such as UKinbound, ETOA, the British Hospitality Association and the WTTC.
And during the Chancellor’s visit to China, Osborne teamed with VisitBritain in Chengdu to announce the next phase of the tourism agency’s Culture is GREAT initiative: a £1.3 million social media campaign inviting Chinese holidaymakers to share images of their experiences online.
Chinese travellers to Britain spend £500 million annually and VisitBritain has ambitious plans to double the value of that market by 2020.
World Travel Market London, Senior Director, Simon Press, said: “Chinese tourists are the most sought-after in the world due to their phenomenal spending power.
“But it now seems China has the same appeal for British tourists, with more than one in two expressing an interest to visit the communist country as it opens itself up to attract more western visitors.”
Wendy Wu is one of the top travel executives speaking during WTM London.
She is on the panel for the debate entitled ‘WTM World Travel Leaders: Asia – Inbound and Outbound – Growing Globally’.
It will take place on 3 November on WTM Global Stage AS850 (2.30pm-4pm).
The China National Tourism Administration will be exhibiting at WTM London on stand AS650, along with the China National Tourist Office London, and 25 other exhibitors from China, including airlines and tourist boards.
About World Travel Market London
WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend four-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.
Almost 51,500 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, embark on ExCeL – London every November to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM.
WTM London, now in its 36th year, is the event where the travel industry conducts and concludes its deals. WTM 2014 will generate around £2.5 billion of travel industry contracts.
WTM London is part of Reed Travel Exhibition’s World Travel Market events, which also includes Arabian Travel Market, World Travel Market Latin America and World Travel Market Africa. www.wtmworld.com
World Travel Market Events
World Travel Market is comprised of the leading leisure travel events in the world; World Travel Market London, WTM Latin America in Sao Paulo, WTM Africa in Cape Town and Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.
New events for 2016 are WTM connect Asia and WTM connect China, which join WTM connect Ski and International Golf Travel Market. These unique one-to-one events are targeted at leisure and niche travel markets, allowing exhibitors to exclusively meet with elite hosted buyers.
The World Travel Market events are attended by the global travel and tourism industry’s senior executives to conduct business deals and discover the latest research, insight and opinion.
In 2014, the World Travel Market events facilitated around $7 billion in industry deals from negotiations between the more than 15,000 buyers, 9,500 exhibitors (1,500 main stand holders and 8,000 stand sharers) in attendance of its four events.
WTM is part of Reed travel Exhibitions, the leading events organizer in the travel industry, and is owned by the world’s leading events organiser Reed Exhibitions.
Reed Travel Exhibitions
Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) is the world’s leading provider of exhibitions in the travel and tourism industry. Its wide-ranging portfolio of events around the globe covers leisure travel, luxury travel, meetings, incentives and business travel, as well as golf, ski and spa travel.
RTE, which organises more than 22 events around the world, includes three divisions; World Travel Market, IBTM Events and International Luxury Travel Market.
RTE is a business unit of Reed Exhibitions.
About Reed Exhibitions
Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events organiser, with over 500 events in 43 countries. In 2014 Reed brought together over seven million event participants from around the world generating billions of dollars in business. Today Reed events are held throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa and organised by 41 fully staffed offices. Reed Exhibitions serves 43 industry sectors with trade and consumer events. It is part of the RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries.