2017 Chinese visitor numbers to UK reach record highs, breaking the half million mark
New Global Blue figures show annual Chinese visitor spend on shopping in UK rose by 32% in 2017
UK outperforms Schengen in the increase in visitor visas issued for the first time
UKCVA and VisitBritain announces formation of new Chinese Visitor Working Group to build on success and drive Chinese visitor numbers to new heights
2017 visitor visa figures show that Chinese visitors to the UK have soared by 0ver 150% in the five years since 2012.
In 2012, when UK China Visitor alliance was founded by New West End Company, London First, Walpole British Luxury, Global Blue and McArthurGlen to work with the government to grow significantly Chinese visitors, the UK issued just 210,958 visitor visas in China. 2017 figures released by the Home Office this month show that figures rose to 531,967, a 152% increase since 2012.
Figures released today by Global Blue show that spending on shopping by Chinese visitors in the UK grew by 32% in 2017, building on a 26% rise in 2016. This compares with just 5% growth in the Eurozone in 2017 and a 21% fall in 2016.
Today (14th March 2018, London) over 100 business leaders from across the UK will gather at The Hippodrome Casino in London’s Leicester Square to hear Brian Bickell, Chairman of the UKCVA announce the launch of the new Chinese Visitor Working Group in partnership with VisitBritain. The Working Group – which will include representatives from business, the Home Office and the DCMS -will explore a wide range of practical initiatives to attract even more Chinese visitors to the UK. It will take a holistic approach, examining new ways to increase demand to visit the UK as well as making it easier to visit through better connectivity and continuation of measures that have already streamlined the visa application process.
The meeting will also hear from Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, who is responsible for tourism, along with Minister Zhu Qui of the Chinese Embassy, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, Chairman of the Conservative Friends of the Chinese and Jacques Stern, Chief Executive of Global Blue, the world’s leading tax free shopping refund operator.
The UKCVA has worked with government to look at practical ways to streamline the application process in China for both a UK and Schengen visa so that they can more easily include the UK on multi-country tours of Europe. This has led to
For the first time, in 2016, the UK outperformed Schengen in terms of the annual increase in visas issued in China (+20% for the UK, -12% for Schengen) while overtaking Germany and Italy and drawing close to France in the number of visitor visas issued. The introduction by Schengen of biometric visas, similar to the UK, has created opportunities to build on these initiatives and successes.
Name Change: UK China Visitor Alliance
At the breakfast briefing Brian Bickell, Chairman of the UK China Visitor Alliance is set to announce a name change from Visa Alliance to Visitor alliance. Of the change Bickell said ‘Since its formation in 2012 the UK China Visa Alliance has focussed mainly on the visa application process for Chinese visitors. The formation of the Chinese Visitor Working Group is recognition of the need to look, not just at the visa system, but also at the whole Chinese visitor experience and spend, which is why we have decided to change our name to the UK China Visitor Alliance.’
Power of the Chinese Spend
The Chinese are the world’s highest spending tourists, with an expenditure of $261.1bn worldwide in 2016.
Global Blue figures show that Chinese shoppers have been driving Tax Free Shopping globally, growing from 21% of global tax free shopping spend in 2010 to 43% in 2017. Global Blue predicts continued strong growth in Chinese visitor numbers as its middle class grows.
Research by New West End Company, based on Global Blue figures show, that in 2016 the Chinese were the biggest spenders in London’s West End, accounting for 25% of all tax-free shopping. Visitors from Saudi Arabia, the next highest spenders, account for 7% of sales the next highest spenders.
At a time when international tourism is growing in importance to the UK economy as Britain prepares to leaves the EU, it is vital that Government and business continue to work together to attract even more Chinese visitors.
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Matt Hancock said:
“This record tourism growth from China is testament to the strength our world-class culture, sightseeing and shopping. We will continue to work closely with the tourism sector to ensure future growth and attract even more Chinese visitors to the UK.”
Brian Bickell said – “The 2017 figures show great progress and are a fantastic example of business and government working together to boost the UK economy. We look forward to building on this partnership and success to welcome even more Chinese visitors to Britain in the coming years”
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP said – As the Chairman of the Conservative Friends of the Chinese I know how important a contribution Chinese visitors make to this country’s economy. It is encouraging that the visa figures for last year were at an all-time high. The UKCVA plays a valuable role in improving the visa system, which will only further benefit jobs and businesses in the UK and strengthen UK-China relations in the long-term
Jacques Stern said – “Chinese shoppers are driving Tax Free Shopping growth worldwide. Shopping is a key reason for them to travel abroad and over half of all their spending is on shopping. As the numbers of Chinese travellers continue to grow, they must be the key market for the UK’s tourist economy”
Jasmine Whitbread, CEO of London First, said:
“We’ve made it simpler for Chinese visitors to come to the UK as part of a European trip – and our shops, theatres, hotels and restaurants are seeing the benefits.
“But we must go further to ensure London, and the UK, can compete with other ‘must see’ destinations. Delivering a welcoming, hassle-free experience for visitors and tour operators will give us a critical competitive edge and keep us on the tourist map.”
Jace Tyrrell, Chief Executive of New West End Company, said:
“Chinese shoppers are now by far the biggest spenders in London’s West End and their numbers are growing every year. This is good for business and good for Britain. The new Chinese Visitor Working Group will help us to build on this success by encouraging even more Chinese shoppers in the future”
Kenny Murray, Centre Manager of the UK’s largest designer outlet, McArthurGlen Cheshire Oaks, said:
“We look forward to collaborating with the Alliance to put Manchester and the North West on the travel itinerary of every Chinese visitor to the UK. Cheshire Oaks saw a 16% increase in Chinese tax-free sales last year, supported by record-breaking numbers of Chinese visitors to the Manchester region, and we are currently investing £40 million to expand our offer to over 170 stores and restaurants.”
Tracy Damestani, CEO of the National Casino Forum, said:
“The National Casino Forum is delighted to be supporting the work of the UK China Visa Alliance. Chinese visitors are an important market for many land-based casinos and the UKCVA plays a vital role in facilitating their trips to the UK and ensuring we offer them the highest standards of hospitality.”
Hugh Seaborn, Chief Executive of Cadogan adds, “We have seen a huge leap in Chinese visitor spend across Chelsea in 2017. We work closely with our retailers, from the luxury brands on Sloane Street to small independents on Pavilion Road, to ensure that all visitors enjoy the best shopping experience possible and have invested in running digital and physical campaigns during key times such as Golden Week and Chinese New Year. We are delighted to support the UKCVA and we look forward to working closely to make London a more attractive visitor destination for the Chinese.”
– ENDS –