The UK is certainly tourist-friendly with millions of people popping over here for their holidays every year, but with Chinese tourists moving away from the US what can the UK do to be more China-friendly.
According to speakers at the Asia Inspiration Zone at the World Travel Market in London, get a WeChat account, enable mobile payments and make Chinese visitors feel welcome. These are just some of the ways European businesses and travel companies can attract more Chinese travellers.
Businesses should also think about becoming Chinese-friendly, adopting and ‘owning’ a Chinese name for their brand or destination and help Chinese visitors by offering mobile payment facilities, such as UnionPay, WeChat Pay and AliPay.
Research has found that in the five years from 2010 to 2014 the number of China’s outbound tourists increased rapidly at an average annual rate of 18%. In 2017, China’s outbound tourists reached 130.51 million, a year-on-year growth of 7%.
Professor Dr. Wolfgang Arlt, from COTRI China Outbound Tourism and Research Institute, said tourism from China was booming, however, the demands and travel habits of the Chinese were changing.
“There’s ongoing segmentation and an increase in age group diversity, more kids and more older people travelling.”
We spoke with Professor Arlt at the World Travel Market, you can listen to his advice and insights here:
The audience also heard how China is virtually a cashless society, with more and more people using their mobile phones to pay for items as small as a bottle of milk, to flights.
Sienna Parulis-Cook, Communications Manager at Dragon Trail Interactive, said: “Get a WeChat account.”
“Personal accounts are free and it’s China’s number one social media platform with 1bn monthly active users. It’s known as the Swiss Army Knife of social media because it offers users so many platforms, including messaging, WeChat Moments, newsletters, WeChat mini-programs (offering services such as e-commerce and coupons).”
“Making Chinese visitors feel welcome is a really important aspect as well. If you’ve made an effort to translate your website, your marketing materials and your timetables, then Chinese visitors will feel like you’ve made an effort,” added McCormack.
Julie Chappell, Managing Director, International Markets, London & Partners, said inbound tourism from China was booming.
Chappell said social media marketing was hugely important to promote London to China, using the royal family, London’s history and Shakespeare all helping raise awareness of London.
However, she said she wanted to show the modern side of London to appeal to the younger travellers using WeChat and Weibo who see themselves as influencers and trendsetters.