How to Appeal to China’s Growing Travelling Classes

Everyone loves punting on the River Cam
Everyone loves punting on the River Cam

With a new simplified visa process, the UK is expected to welcome more Chinese visitors. Peter Ducker FIH, chief executive of the Institute of Hospitality, explores how operators can best serve this growing market.

Recent UK Government measures will ease visa restrictions making it easier for Chinese people to visit the UK and mainland Europe on the same trip. The new measures also include a super priority 24 hour visa service (at a reported cost of £600 per person) and a new joint British/Irish visa scheme. This makes good economic sense because the Chinese will make up 20% of the world’s foreign tourists by 2023, a report by Amadeus IT Group SA says. The number of Chinese families able to afford overseas holidays will double in the next 10 years.

So, once the Chinese are here, what should we do to make the best possible impression and ensure they spread the word back at home? What appeals to the Chinese traveller? And what might be off-putting?

Chang Liu talks about the Chinese ‘connection’ to Cambridge (Source: BBC)

Bill Brogan FIH, catering and conference manager at St John’s College, Cambridge, often takes Chinese groups around the UK. He says they love our history, sense of humour and scenery. The Chinese love visiting our historic towns and cities such as Bath, Oxford and York, just like tourists from all over the world, but not always for the same reasons.

The Chinese come to Cambridge, for example, to visit the colleges and go punting on the Cam. But most of all they come to visit an inscribed stone (see video) placed in the grounds of King’s College in 2008 that will mean nothing to non-Chinese speakers. It reads: “Gently I’m leaving, just like I gently came,” a line from ‘A second farewell to Cambridge,’ a poem taught to every child in China and written by Xu Zhimo, China’s most popular modernist poet. He studied at King’s College in the 1920s and went on to become a Chinese icon.

 "Gently I'm leaving, just like I gently came," a line from 'A second farewell to Cambridge,' by 20th c. poet Xu Zhimo
“Gently I’m leaving, just like I gently came,” a line from ‘A second farewell to Cambridge,’ by 20th c. poet Xu Zhimo

In the coming years, there are likely to be massive opportunities in the development of Chinese group tours. Innovative hoteliers and tour operators will want to do their research to gain a greater understanding of Chinese culture, needs and desires.

To read the full article about increasing your hospitality business’s appeal to Chinese travellers, along with data about the growing number of Chinese tourists, and precisely what appeals to them – and what doesn’t – click HERE to learn how to ‘Welcome Chinese Travellers’.


Author: Institute of Hospitality

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