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Edinburgh to host Chinese New Year festival

By Angus McNeice in London | China Daily UK | Updated: 2018-11-22 01:29

Edinburgh will host a two-week festival in February 2019 to celebrate Chinese New Year and promote the city to Chinese tourists, the Scottish capital's tourism authority has announced.

The Edinburgh Tourism Action Group, also called ETAG, said the new campaign will work toward reinforcing Edinburgh's position as "one of Europe's premier China-friendly destinations".

Special events and promotions pertaining to Spring Festival will be held across the Scottish capital from Feb 2-17, and ETAG is inviting local businesses to get involved.

The tourism group runs an initiative called China Ready, in which it trains Scottish enterprises the best ways to cater to and connect with Chinese tourists.

"National holidays in China are a fantastic opportunity for the city, and a particular focus for Edinburgh to increase business during the quieter months of the year," said Rob Lang, head of marketing at Edinburgh Airport and chair of China Ready.

Six-and-a-half million Chinese travelers went abroad during Spring Festival 2018, according to Chinese travel agency Ctrip, with 390,000 making their way to Europe.

"We hope that visitors, residents and local businesses all get involved, maintain the incredible energy from Scotland's Hogmanay celebrations and enjoy our contribution to one of the world's largest cultural celebrations," Lang added.

As part of the festival, ETAG expects to collaborate with local arts groups to put on Chinese New Year themed talks, events, displays and installations. Business will be invited to offer "red envelope" promotions and Chinese New Year themed shopping events and window displays.

ETAG will partner with British arts and entertainment guide The List to promote the campaign in the UK, and will also market events on the official Edinburgh WeChat and Weibo accounts. ETAG is also partnering with the Scottish Confucius Institute for Business and Communication which will help with marketing and campaign management.

The Balmoral, a landmark luxury hotel in Edinburgh, has already said it plans to take part in the promotional campaign.

"Chinese New Year is cause for celebration at The Balmoral and we are all looking forward to welcoming the Year of The Pig," said Richard Cooke, general manager at The Balmoral. "Bao (steamed stuffed bun) will be served at breakfast along with Balmoral Long Life Noodles. Angpao (red envelope) and mandarins will be in all rooms as we wish everyone long life, happiness and prosperity."

Danny Cusick, director of tourism at economic development agency Scottish Enterprise, said that local businesses have benefited from an increasing number of Chinese visitors and improved air links between Scotland and China.

In 2017, Chinese visitor numbers to Scotland grew by 13 percent, according to ETAG, and the first direct air route between Edinburgh and Beijing launched in June this year.

"It's been fantastic to see the extent to which the Edinburgh tourism sector has come together to make the most of the amazing opportunity that the growth of the Chinese visitor market offers," said Cusick.

According to Scottish tourism authority VisitScotland, at least 62,000 Chinese tourists visited Scotland in 2017. The actual figure is likely to be higher because passenger surveys do not always accurately account for group travel.

In 2017, 177,000 visitors to Edinburgh Castle – the fortress that dominates the city's skyline – listed their point of origin as China.

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