Magazine article Marketing

Luring the Chinese

Magazine article Marketing

Luring the Chinese

Article excerpt

Will an pounds 8m investment boost be enough to attract more tourists, asks Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith.

The image of Brand Britain has never been stronger on the world stage Now Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has set the tourism bodies, which strive to promote that image internationally, a fresh challenge: to attract the growing numbers of Chinese travellers.

Hunt announced last week that he is allocating an extra pounds 10m to the UK's tourism budget to help 'turbocharge' the industry. In addition, tourism body VisitBritain is to receive an additional pounds 8m next year to plough straight into activity targeting the Chinese market.

Speaking to Marketing, Sandie Dawe, chief executive of VisitBritain (pictured, right), says that relationships must be built up with the Chinese market. 'The key to China is getting the travel agents and tour operators to put Britain in the brochure in the first place.'

The opportunity, she says, is enormous.

As Hunt points out, by 2030 China will have about 1.4bn middle class consumers, 'creating a potential market four times bigger than America'. His aim is to treble the amount of incoming Chinese tourists to 500,000 by 2015.

The UK is not alone in fighting hard for their slice. Italy, France and Germany already attract significantly more Chinese tourists than the UK, according to Breda Bubear, head of global advertising and communications at Virgin Atlantic (see box, right). Competition from further afield is also rife, with countries such as New Zealand targeting Chinese consumers with dedicated campaigns.

As China makes the transition from 'one of the world's largest producers of things to one of the world's largest consumers of things, especially luxury goods', those tourists will be looking to broaden their travel experiences, explains Tom Adams, head of future consulting at FutureBrand, which creates the annual Country Brand Index.

'The growth in China's middle class is leading to a great deal of tourism around consumption, be it travelling to Paris for Louis Vuitton or Italy for Gucci; it's about the authentic experience,' adds Adams. 'While I expect shopping tourism to continue, they will also look for other reasons to travel more. Brand UK's strongest areas are heritage and culture. …

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