Date: Wednesday, 21st March 2018
Venue: Atlee Suite, Portcullis House, 1 Bridge St, London SW1A 2JH
Chaired by Richard Graham MP (Chair of the APPCG)
- Anthony Pickles, Head of Tourism Affairs, Visit Britain
- Carol Hui, Chief of Staff and General Counsel, Heathrow
- Paul Barnes, Campaign Manager, UK China Visitor Alliance
On 21st March 2018, the APPCG hosted over 100 members and guests at Chinese Tourism: A great contributor to growth, with Heathrow, Visit Britain and UK-China Visitor Alliance, as part of English Tourism Week.
A record number of Chinese visitors came to the UK last year, breaking the half million mark. This figure is even more remarkable given that only 8% of Chinese citizens own a passport. The Chinese are already the highest spending tourists and account for 25% of all tax-free shopping in London’s West End. The economic opportunities for Britain from more tourism will continue to grow as China’s travelling middle class increases.
The panel discussed how best to recognise the increased market for Chinese outward bound travel and to discuss how Britain should best react. Anthony Pickles highlighted the competition that Britain faces in attracting Chinese visitors and how Visit Britain is working to promote the UK in China. The need to increase airport and airline capacity to facilitate more direct connections to a larger number of Chinese cities was raised by Carol Hui, who shared the exciting news that Heathrow Airport will launch new direct routes to the cities of Changsha, Xi’an and Qingdao. Direct flights from Heathrow to China already contribute £510 million per year to our GDP and create over 14,500 jobs. Finally, Paul Barnes updated us how UK-China Visitor Alliance have worked to streamline the visa process, so that Chinese visitors are able to apply for a UK visa and a Schengen visa with one form and benefit in most cases from a multi-entry long validity visa.
Questions focused on the importance of Chinese language materials and in some cases food; the changing tastes of younger travellers; and the importance of the education links. Chairman Richard Graham highlighted the interest of several MPs present from a constituency tourism point of view, and warmly thanked the three guest speakers for sharing their thoughts.