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UK leaps up list among Chinese travelers

By ANGUS McNEICE | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-08-09 17:33

The United Kingdom is growing in popularity among Chinese travelers, a new survey shows, and flight bookings from China to Britain, from August to October, are up 20 percent, compared to a year earlier.

Britain is now seventh in the ranking of nations Chinese tourists intend to visit during the coming year -up from 17th in 2016. This is according to an annual survey of 3,000 Chinese international travelers conducted by market research firm Ipsos Mori for travel service

France, the United States, Australia, and Canada are the most popular, followed by Germany and the Maldives. The UK shares seventh with Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand.

The survey found London was the second choice among Chinese travelers considering a trip to Europe, behind Paris and ahead of Athens and Vienna.

In 2016, there were 122 million outbound visits by Chinese tourists - 4 percent more than in 2015, and 74 percent more than in 2011.

Abhiram Chowdhry, managing director for Asia Pacific and Latin America for, said the "potential for growth" in both the number of Chinese travelers and their spending power "is enormous".

A record 54,000 tourists from China visited the UK in the first quarter of 2017, a rise of 27 percent on the same period in 2016, said tourism authority VisitBritain.

VisitBritain director Patricia Yates said Britain was 9 percent more affordable in the first quarter of 2017, compared to the first three months of 2016.

Travel agent Ctrip said Chinese tourists paid up to 20 percent less for trips to the UK following the vote to leave the European Union and fall in the pound.

"As the number of Chinese travelers grows, so does their expectations of new, more adventurous and diverse travel offerings," said Chowdhry.

Survey respondents said the three key areas of the travel experience they would like to see improved are -more Mandarin-speaking staff, more familiar payment options such as Alipay and UnionPay, and improved local transport.

The study noted many hotels in the UK have taken steps to better serve Chinese visitors, including training staff in Mandarin and adding noodle kettles and snack boxes with Chinese food to kitchenettes.

Respondents said safety will be the primary consideration when planning their next holiday. A destination's historical heritage and whether a country was"on the bucket list" shared second spot, followed by cuisine, and value for money.

Respondents said they spent an average of 28 percent of their annual income on international travel. Those born after 1990 spent the largest proportion, averaging 35 percent of their wages.

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