Foreign and Military Affairs

Scotland rolls out welcome mat to Chinese tourists

By Zhang Chunyan (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-04-28 07:09
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Country eager to attract more Chinese visitors

ABERDEEN, Scotland - Scotland's tourism authority is eager to attract more Chinese visitors to the country, Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, told China Daily.

"China is important to Scotland's targeted tourism growth," said Cantlay.

VisitScotland is Scotland's tourist board, providing information on travel, holidays and accommodation.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond led tourism and trade missions to China in 2009 and 2010.

As the home of golf and whisky, Scotland is an attractive destination for Chinese visitors, Cantlay said.

According to VisitScotland, China is one of Scotland's most important emerging markets with an increase in visits from 7,000 in 2005 to more than 21,000 in 2010.

Last year, Chinese tourists contributed more than 11 million pounds ($18 million) to the Scottish economy.

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However, many Chinese visitors have a narrow view of Scotland, Cantlay said, adding that they know Edinburgh, golf in St Andrews, and the Loch Ness monster, but there is so much more, such as museums and art in Glasgow, and many beautiful castles and islands.

Many Chinese visitors travel to London, and then to York and Edinburgh.

"We would like to see more and more Chinese visitors coming straight to Scotland and seeing more of Scotland, because Chinese visitors can enjoy Scotland hugely," Cantlay said.

Lynda Denton, head of sales and marketing at Gretna Green Group, told China Daily that the Scottish village of Gretna Green, a legendary destination for eloping couples, saw a huge increase in Chinese visitors from 2005 to 2010.

She travels to China once or twice a year to promote Scottish tourism.

The Chinese market offers an opportunity for Scotland's luxury businesses and brands, Denton said, revealing that Chinese tourists normally spend two to four days in Scotland.

Edinburgh-based Apex Hotels, a leading operator of city center hotels in the United Kingdom, also reported a more than 100 percent increase in Chinese guests from 2009 to 2010 across its five Scottish hotels.

Scotland's top tourist attraction Edinburgh Castle welcomed over 95,000 Chinese visitors between 2008 and 2010, including students living in the UK, with Chinese visitors accounting for 4 percent of Edinburgh Castle's total annual visits.

Although the number of Chinese visitors to Scotland is still a small proportion of the total number of overseas visitors to the country, Chinese tourists spend more than the average overseas visitor, making them invaluable to the growth ambitions of tourism in Scotland, said Andrew Moffat, international PR executive of VisitScotland.