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News release - Issued by Visit York

York Bolsters Far East Tourism - With New China Sales Mission

A new sales mission in China is expected to pay dividends for York and boost visits from the country throughout 2018 and beyond. Marketing Manager for Visit York, Michelle Brown, has just landed back in the UK after attending VisitBritain’s China sales mission in Guangzhou. The three-day event last week was attended by around eighty tour operators from across China, all looking for travel ideas to sell to their customers and include in their travel brochures.

Michelle, Visit York’s expert on tourism marketing in China, said: “Our aim is to grow the number of tour operators featuring York in their holiday brochures. We know Chinese visitors love our history, heritage and especially our afternoon teas and shopping. They even love to try our fish and chips! After forty one-to-one appointments with some of China’s most high profile travel companies I’m confident York will see the benefits of this mission next year and in 2019.”

Attendance at the event is part of Visit York’s continued commitment to promoting the city in China and adds to a host of marketing activity including the release this year of a fourth edition of York’s Visitor Guide in simplified Mandarin. 35,000 copies of the guide have been distributed via five inbound airlines from China, at VIP airport arrival lounges at London and Stansted as well as visa application offices in Beijing and Shanghai.

A York video in Chinese, originally launched in 2014, has now generated over half a million online views and social media channels on Weibo and WeChat now have over 30,000 followers.
According to Visit York the new direct route from Manchester airport to Beijing with Hainan Airlines provides a perfect opportunity to promote York to Chinese visitors keen to explore more of the UK. Visit York aims to entice Chinese visitors here with a mix of high end shopping at venues such as Pandora, Fenwick and York Designer Outlet, afternoon tea at venues such as the Grand Hotel and Spa and the National Railway Museum’s Countess of York and world-class visitor attractions, such as York Minster, York’s Chocolate Story and JORVIK.

Michelle added: “The tour operators were especially interested in the Shop That Must Not Be Named on Shambles and in Castle Howard. We’ve already had a key enquiry from Chengdu for example to contract bedrooms for the Grand Hotel and Spa and from one of the biggest Chinese tour operators, Caissa, to feature the Jorvik Viking Festival in their holiday brochures. Interestingly there’s no Chinese word for Viking so it is referred to as the York Pirate Festival!”

VisitBritain Director, Patricia Yates said: “China is the most valuable outbound tourism market in the world and a huge opportunity for Britain. This event gives York and other UK travel suppliers the chance to get their tourism products and services in front of top buyers from China and to forge valuable business connections.”

Castle Howard and Selby Abbey continue to be of keen interest to Chinese visitors since the wedding of Taiwanese pop star and actor, Jay Chou, which took place in January 2015. Ever since this news broke on social media, interest in York and Yorkshire has increased in China, with hundreds of Chinese visitors posting photos of themselves online in front of Castle Howard.

Attendance at the sales mission in Guangzhou is just one element of Make It York’s ongoing marketing campaign, under its tourism brand Visit York, to make the city a must-see destination for the rapidly growing Chinese tourism market. Marketing is being supported by dedicated PR and this month York will feature in China’s largest English language newspaper, the China UK Daily, with a circulation of 200,000.


Notes to Editor

The GREAT China Welcome Charter is awarded to businesses who provide evidence of a product or service of genuine interest to Chinese visitors.

According to VisitBritain direct route access to the UK from China is improving and several UK airports and carriers are working to build more routes between the UK and China. UK tourism is also raising its game, responding to the different expectations of Chinese consumers.

Key gateway cities from China include Beijing in the North, Shanghai in the East, Guangzhou in the South and Chengdu in the West. These cities all have direct flights to London and make up around 75% of all UK visa applications.

Visit York, the Grand Hotel and Spa, the Churchill Hotel, Castle Howard, City Cruises, English Heritage, York Designer Outlet, UK Regency, Beiwei 55 and Mountain Goat Tours have all signed up to the GREAT China Welcome Charter.

Chinese Tourism Facts

  • Outbound travel from China has grown over the past five years and is forecast to continue to do so for the remainder of this decade. China is now the most lucrative outbound travel market in the world.
  • Britain saw record-breaking growth from China in the first half of 2017. From Jan-June this year there were 115,000 visits from China to the UK, up 47% on the same period last year, with visitors spending £231 million, up by 54%
  • Visitors from China are some of the UK’s highest spenders, they also stay longer and travel more widely. In 2016 Chinese visitors spent, on average, £1,972 during their visit, more than three times the all-market average. They visited the UK for an average of 20 nights in 2016, compared to an all market average of seven.
  • As of October 2017, the UK was 10% cheaper for visitors from China, compared to October 2015.
  • For every 22 visits from China to the UK, one job is created in Britain’s tourism industry.
  • VisitBritain has ambitions to double spend from Chinese visitors to £1 billion annually by 2020.
  • The UK has seen 20% year on year growth over the past few years and China has been one of the fastest growing source markets for the UK tourism industry.
  • In China, one of the most recent trends is to travel in groups (mum and dad, two sets of grandparents and child) - often with a view to looking at property in the UK and researching a future university for the child.

York Visitor Survey:

  • York has 6.9 million visitors annually. 250,000 are from overseas.
  • The top overseas markets for York are US, China, Australia, Germany, Netherlands and France.
  • China is now estimated to be York’s 2nd largest overseas market (jumping from 10th place just five years ago)
  • Whist we know China is ranked as the second most important overseas market for York, further research is needed to estimate actual visitor numbers to York from China.

Visit York China Tourism Campaign - Background
Visit York achieved the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) Destination Label (in 2014) and has run several ‘China Welcome’ training courses aimed at helping tourism businesses ensure they are China Friendly.

Following demand, from June to September this year, Hainan Airlines increased its direct flights from Manchester Airport to Beijing to daily. This is the only direct flight to mainland China outside of London and the route has proved to be a huge success.

The Chinese Consul General also visited the city in October 2017 on an official visit to discuss how York can work more closely on tourism collaboration and inward investment. Dr Sun visited with a delegation to understand more about York’s tourism offer. The visit included Castle Howard, Maxis, JORVIK Viking Centre and the Red Chilli restaurant.

In November 2016 York signed a sister city agreement with Nanjing.

About Make It York
Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally - as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business.

About Visit York
Visit York is a part of Make It York and is the leisure tourism brand.
Under the brand Visit York, Make It York’s aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination to the leisure visitor and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in York.

York Tourism Facts
6.9 million visitors annually
£564 million total visitor spend
19,000 jobs supported by tourism