CHINA Market & Trade Profile -

CHINA Market & Trade Profile -


Market & Trade Profile

Updated January 2006


Market & Trade Profile

Updated January 2006


1. Market Snapshot

2. General Market Conditions

• Population / Languages

• Economics / Politics

• Holidays / Annual Leave

• General Emerging Consumer Trends

3. Access Overview

• Political, Passport & Visa issues

• Gateways / Access to Britain

4.Market Size / Share

• Current and forecast overall market size / Britain’s % share

• Current volume / value statistics and trends for UK

• Key Competitor Destinations – actual & aspirational

5.Market Shape / Dynamics

• Purpose of visit

• Length of stay

• Regional spread / top towns

• Seasonal spread

• Type of Accommodation – where do they stay?

6.Britain’s Brand Image in China

• The bigger picture – Britain as a nation brand

• Britain as a tourist destination – DEPTH, HEART, VITALITY

7.Product / Market Fit

• What products / experiences are most attractive to Chinese visitors?

8.Who is the Chinese Visitor to Britain?

• Demographics (age, gender) / key market segments /

travelling group

• 1st timer / repeat markets

9.Understanding Chinese Culture

• Practicalities / language & information issues

• Interaction tips

• Accommodation / Food & drink

10. Reaching Chinese Consumers

• Deciding, planning & booking patterns for travel

• Online environment / Internet access

• Media habits


11. The Trade

• Overview of Trade structure

• Reaching the Trade

12. Business Visits & Events

• Statistics & Trends

13. VisitBritain in China

• Working in Partnership with VisitBritain

• Overseas contacts

• London contacts / Further information

• Information sources used to compile this report

1) Market Snapshot

GENERAL MARKET CONDITIONS • UK awarded ADS status in January 2005

• Population 1.3 billion and growing

• IMF Forecasts 2006: GDP (based on PPP per capita) USD$6.700.

GDP Growth Rate 8%. Inflation 3.8%









• Valid passport and Visa is required for Chinese nationals.

Visa is a barrier issue.

• Gateways / Routes to UK – Direct primarily Beijing and Shanghai

to London Heathrow

• Airlines – BA, Virgin, China Eastern, Air China

• 16 million outbound in 2004. UK has 0.6% market share

• UK ranked 16th outbound destination (top three are Hong Kong,

Macau, Thailand)

• 95,000 visits in 2004 (up 41% on 2003)

• £131m spent in 2004 (up 3% on 2003). AEV £1,371; AED £61

• 38% are BUSINESS visitors; 23% HOLIDAY; 21% VFR

• 28% stay 15 nights or more; 24% stay 8-14 nights. HOLIDAY

visits are much shorter than this (37% 1-3 nights)

• 2/3 visit in last 6 months of the year

• DEPTH VALUES – tradition, cultural events & attractions, stories

around the sights

• As modern as it is traditional

• Scenically beautiful and relaxing

• History / Heritage / Royalty; Education (Oxford & Cambridge);

British Culture; Natural Scenic Beauty / Landscapes; Shopping; Sport.

• 58% of visitors in 2004 were aged 25-44. Male skew (fits with


• ADS tourists – very broad characteristics

• Business & official visits

• Education related travel

• Some independent travel (those who may have studied or worked

in UK previously)


• Travel trade are relied upon heavily

2) General Market Conditions

Population / Languages

The US Census Bureau puts the population of China at approximately

1.3 billion. offers population forecasts as:

2004: 1.315bn

2005: 1.324bn

2006: 1.333bn

2007: 1.342bn

It is estimated that China's population will reach its peak between 2034-

2037 at around 1.486bn and then start to level down gradually.

65% of the Chinese population is aged under 40 at present, but by 2044

it is forecast that the under-40s will represent 44% of the population as

the age-structure of the population becomes older. Indeed, it is forecast

that by 2044 there will be over 3 million Chinese aged 95 or older.

Languages: - Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the

Beijing dialect) is the official spoken language. Local dialects include:

Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghaniese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan

(Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka

Economics / Politics

The Peoples Republic of China is still a Communist state, but

communism comes with a small “c” these days. According to the China

Brand Strategy Association, about 175 million Chinese people, 13% of

the population, can now afford high-end luxury goods. By 2010, that

number is estimated to reach 250 million, based on a 20% year-on-year

growth rate expected for the coming five years. This ties in with the

World Tourism Organisation forecast that outbound travel will grow as

wealth increases, possibly reaching 100 million outbound visits by 2020.

Figures from the IMF reveal that Chinese GPD has increased by more

than 7% per annum each year since 1991, and by 2006 will account for

14% of global GDP measured in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP)

– this adjusts the figure to take account of different costs and prices

from one country to another. Per capita GDP is expected to be around

$6,700 in PPP terms in 2006, however in absolute terms this equates to


China is now a member of the World Trade Organisation and further

economic liberalisation is expected in the coming years, but the Chinese

authorities have stated that they want the benefits of further reform to

be targeted at the rural poor.

Economics / Politics continued

Global Insight estimate that on current growth projections China will be

the world’s largest single economy by 2050. China is already the

world’s largest consumer of grain, meat, coal and steel. In the

near-term, the IMF forecast that in 2006 China’s economy will expand

by 8.2% and inflation will remain relatively subdued at 3.8%.

China now allows the Yuan to float within a limited range against a

basket of currencies, rather than having a fixed peg against the US$.

However, there is still considerable pressure on China to allow a further

appreciation in the value of the Yuan. As at October 2005 there were

14.2 Yuan to the Pound.

China has, at best, cool relations with Japan, despite growing trade

between the two nations. The legal status of Taiwan is a further, as yet

unresolved, political difficulty.

Holidays / Annual Leave

The peak times to travel are during the three golden weeks: Lunar New

Year (late January or early February), Labour Day (1st May) and National

Day (1st October).

General Emerging Consumer Trends

The Dragon is awake

The attitudinal prerequisites for a travel boom in China seem to be firmly

in place – and recent qualitative research amongst consumers from this

new, quietly confident middle class confirms it. They are very proud of

China’s progress and prosperity, believe their own PR (the fastest train in

the world, an F1 race track) and are seeing tourists coming to their own

country to admire it. Now it’s their turn.

Curiosity, money and leisure time, a lifting of the exit barriers and more

personal and national confidence are all contributing as catalysts for

international travel. As overseas travel is also seen as a “badge of

sophistication”, it is anticipated that status anxiety will further push the

travel bug to more and more Chinese.

Will China demonstrate a quicker progression through

travel styles?

Some have commented that although China is looking similar to Japan

and South Korea in its early stages – i.e. heavy emphasis on group travel

and reliance on the travel trade, it may actually develop more quickly as

a market for travel as it has done in so many other areas of development.

Some of the key developments are:

Short Haul to Long Haul

1st time traveller to repeat visitor

Group tour to DIY to independent travel

Golden Weeks to off-peak / individual

Trophy tourism to experiential tourism

Only time will tell, and a lot will depend on the levels of restrictions

capping the development of these trends. Currently ADS visas are only

permissible for group tours of 5 or more people – groups, which are

highly bound to rules, and regulations that inhibit the development of

independence in travel.

Little Emperors

China’s “one child” policy has led to the term “little emperor” to describe

the often spoiled and indulged consequences of a situation where family

life revolves around the needs and future ambition for the single

youngster. The majority of “little emperors” are boys. It is not hard to

imagine how this need to pamper, educate and expand the mind of the

cherished sole future generation could cross over into international

travel as a key means of development.

3) Access Overview

Political Situation

Chinese tourists are officially allowed to travel to countries that have

been granted Approved Destination Status (ADS). Britain was granted

ADS on 21st of January 2005. It was implemented with effect from 1st

of July 2005 at which time Chinese nationals were first allowed to enter

Britain for group leisure travel (minimum group size of 5), rather than

simply for visiting friends/relatives or studying and business.

Passport and Visa Issues

Chinese visitors must apply for a 6-month multiple entry visa. The UK

visa can be difficult to get, expensive with a high refusal rate and long

decision time. Obtaining a visa is the single biggest deterrent to UK

tourism promotion in China due to complex procedures, extra time, risk

and cost. Recent qualitative research (September 2005) in China

amongst consumers, trade, government and airlines confirms this

hypothesis and indicates that ACCESSIBILITY rather than COST of visa is

the key problem.

For consumers, a rejected visa application can be worse than having not

applied in the first place as successful stamps in the passport are a door

to further international travel. As a consequence, perceived “easier”

visas may be sought first (e.g. Australia, South East Asia) before trading

up to Schengen, then UK or USA.

For trade, approval is the number one problem and the need for a

separate UK visa seriously undermines the country’s attractiveness.

Narrow travel windows (Golden Weeks) plus length of time to approve a

Schengen visa can be erratic. The addition of a UK visa can add 1-2

weeks to planning – and with demand going strong for European tours

regardless of country inclusions, the temptation is to take the path of

least resistance.

The key issues are:

UK is not a Schengen country. A separate visa to enter Britain is

required. This involves extra effort, time and cost - a significant

competitive disadvantage for Britain.

The UK visa is the most expensive visa in Europe. The new ADS visa,

single or dual entry valid for one month costs £51. Applicants have to

pay an extra £14 as a processing fee charged by the Visa Application

Centre. In comparison, a tourist visa to the 15 Schengen countries costs

less than £30.

The only advantage is that the visa application is now available in 12

cities as opposed to the 4 covered by the FCO. There is no evidence

that this will make obtaining a UK tourist visa easier or quicker. This is

mainly due to communication problems between UK visa service, VFS

and travel agents created by the new system.

Schengen countries, especially Germany, Italy, Netherlands and France,

are reviewing their ADS policy because of the increasing number of

abuses and absconders. Many previously accredited Chinese travel

agents are being suspended by the Schengen countries. The UK visa

service in China follows suit even though we are not part of the

Schengen agreement.

In some markets, one of which is China, the FCO has outsourced the

visa process to commercial companies. Whilst the obvious advantage of

this is that visas can be applied for in a wider range of cities, there is

nonetheless a more negative aspect.

Main Gateways Servicing China

Gateways / Access to Britain

In 2004 (IPS), 87% of Chinese visitors travelled to UK by air and a further

13% via the Channel Tunnel or Sea (in all likelihood as part of a wider

European tour).

All flights between China and UK fly into London Heathrow.

Air China:



British Airways:



Virgin Atlantic Airways:


China Eastern:

LHR: Flights from Beijing

and Shanghai:

British Airways

Shanghai: 5 flights per week

Beijing: 6 flights per week

Virgin Atlantic

Shanghai: 5 flights per week

China Eastern Airlines

Shanghai: 4 flights per week

Air China

Beijing: 6 flights per week


Also checked through connections from Chengdu, Shenyang, Shenzhen

and Harbin via Shanghai

Alternative carriers offer indirect services such as Cathay Pacific via

Hong Kong.


4) Market Size / Share

Current & Forecast Market Size

Global Insight estimates that there were almost 16 million outbound

overnight visits from China in 2004. By 2010, this is forecast to be almost

31 million – a growth of 93%.

The WTO forecast that outbound travel could reach 100 million visits by


UK currently accounts for 0.6% of all outbound trips from China – and

this percentage is likely to be the same in 2010.

Current Volume and Value Statistics / Trends

IPS 2003 2004 Change

year on year

Total Visits 68,000 95,000 +41%

Visits Rank

(League Table No. Outside top 30 rankings

Visitors to UK)

Total Spend £127m £131m +3%

Spend Rank 22 24 Down 2 places

(League Table

£ Spend in UK)

Average Spend £1,876 £1,371 -27%

per Visit (AEV)

AEV Rank 4 5 Down 1 place

Average Spend £72 £60 -17%

per Day (AED)

AED Rank 18 26 Down 8 places

Note: The expenditure figures for China have to be read with caution,

as the sample size is quite small for this market.

2004 was the best ever-recorded year for visits and spends from China.

Key Competitor Destinations – actual

Global Tourism Navigator shows us that the UK was 16th in the actual

ranking of top destinations (short and long haul included) for Chinese

outbound travel in 2004.

Asia, Hong Kong, Macao and Thailand attract most of the tourists from

Mainland China.

1 Hong Kong 6 Singapore

2 Macau 7 Russia

3 Thailand 8 South Korea

4 Vietnam 9 Japan

5 Italy 10 Malaysia

16 United Kingdom

Key Competitor Destinations - aspirational

According to the Anholt-GMI Nation Brands Index (Wave 3 2005),

which surveys a representative n=1000 sample of the online population

in China, the UK is ranked 4th out of 24 (i.e. not all potential are asked

about) destinations that would be likely for a leisure visit “if money were

no object”.

1 France 6 Switzerland

2 United States 7 Canada

3 Germany 8 Italy

4 UK 9 Sweden

5 Australia 10 South Korea

Competition from other European destinations remains strong.

According to VB intelligence, France and Italy get the lion’s share of

China’s Europe bound market.

Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Germany and Switzerland are all

highly visible in the market. Switzerland will start to issue Schengen visa

by 2008 at the latest. Many East European destinations offer new and

cheaper alternatives.

5) Market Shape / Dynamics

Purpose of Visit

The biggest proportion of Chinese visitors come to the UK for

Business (38%).

However, the business share has declined from 57% in 1999 to 38% in

2004, whereas the proportion of holiday visitors has increased from 16%

in 1999 to 23% in 2004.

We must bear in mind that IPS figures on “purpose” for China may be

misleading. This is due to the fact that until January 2005, there was no

ADS agreement in place to allow holiday travel to the UK. Specifically,

those stating a business purpose are equally likely to have had some

holiday element to the visit.

VisitBritain’s Online Best Prospects research (2005), found that

three-quarters of best prospects (those already planning or very likely to

visit) were interested in visiting Britain for a holiday and now that ADS is

signed it will be possible to travel in this way.

There is more on business visits specifically in section 12 of this document.

21% of Chinese visitors are VFR visitors.

The 2001 census found that there were 51,717 UK residents who had

been born in China – an increase of 117% on the 1991 census. These

residents are most likely to be found in London, the South East and the

North West of England.

In 2004, 15% of Chinese visitors visited the UK for study. This proportion

represented only 3% in 1999. Although long-term study is not counted

in tourism statistics by IPS, this can be an important source market for

VFR visits. In 2004, UCAS had 39,445 Chinese applicants for degree

courses (of which 6324 were accepted – making China the largest

source market for UK overseas higher education students). The most

popular subjects taken in 2004 were: Business & Administration,

Engineering and Mathematics.

The FCO estimate that 32,000 Chinese students are currently

undertaking some form of study in UK.

5) Market Shape / Dynamics continued

Length of Stay

Seasonal Spread


Overall, 28% of Chinese visitors stay in the UK for 15 nights or more

and 24% for 8-14 nights. Three-quarters of study visitors stay 15 nights

or more.

The length of stay of holiday visitors is much shorter - 37% of them stay

for 1-3 nights.

Regional Spread

98% of Chinese visitors stayed in England, 64% in London, 12% in

Scotland and 3% in Wales in 2004 (IPS).

In the Anholt-GMI Nation Brands Index Wave 3 2005, we asked 1000

Chinese participants how well they felt they knew the regions of Britain

– giving a score of 1-7 and taking into account any of the ways they had

learned or heard about each region. 1 = never heard of the region and 7

= know the region very well.

Chinese participants were significantly more likely to be aware of

London than any of the other regions – including the concept of Great

Britain overall. Awareness of other parts of England, and of Scotland was

similar. Chinese were least aware of Wales as a region of Britain.

According to IPS, two thirds of Chinese residents visit in the last 6

months of the year. The periods July-September and October-December

each account for about one third of holiday visits.

The most popular period for VFR visitors is October-December (41%).

Accommodation Type



England (Other)

England (London)

Britain Overall






3 3.5 4 4.5 5 5.5 6 6.5

The majority of participants in this online survey had NOT visited Britain

previously, but looking at the 240 Chinese who had ever visited Britain,

the scores for each region do increase (although none significantly).

In VisitBritain’s Online Best Prospects research (2005), we asked our

best prospects about their levels of interest in visiting different areas of

Britain: London, England outside of London, Scotland and Wales.

London was hugely popular relative to the rest of the country, which

may suggest that London is almost synonymous with Britain as a

destination for the Chinese. Scotland was slightly more attractive than

Wales and other parts of England.

Hotel and guesthouse are Chinese visitors’ most popular type of

accommodation - 60% stayed in a Hotel/guesthouse in 2004, but this

accounted for only 15% of nights spent in total.

Only 8% of Chinese visitors stayed at a hostel/University/School but it

represents 42% of all nights spent in the UK as study visitors stay for

such a long time.

Around 80% of Holiday and Business visitors stay at a Hotel or


88% of VFR visitors stay as free guests but 47% stay at a Hotel or

Guesthouse, suggesting that some Chinese visitors make use of both

types of accommodation.

6) Britain’s Brand Image in China

The bigger picture – Britain as a “nation brand”

The UK is further down the ranking scale as a country that is

competently, honestly and fairly governed (13th), and in comparison to

the majority of the other countries on the NBI Index, the UK is not

perceived to be a country that behaves responsibly in the areas of

international peace and security (21st).


The Chinese perceive the US, Germany, Russia and the UK to make a

major contribution to innovations in science and technology. The

Chinese view products that are made in the US, Germany, France and

the UK positively.

The Anholt-GMI Nation Brands Index (Wave 3 2005) is an online panel

survey of 1000 Chinese. Overall, the Chinese rate the UK well on all

aspects of the Brand Hexagon with the exception of GOVERNANCE,

which is ranked in 13th position, compared to the other countries


The 6 points of the hexagon are made up of several different questions,

which compare 24 countries as Nation Brands.

The Chinese rank the INVESTMENT dimension the highest (2nd place

behind the US), followed by EXPORTS in 3rd place. This indicates that

despite their relatively low opinion of the UK government the Chinese

would still be happy to live and work in the UK. They also appreciate

products produced in the UK.

The Chinese also have an appreciation of British CULTURE (ranked in

4th position behind US, France and Russia). TOURISM is also ranked in

4th position (behind Egypt, France and Italy). The Chinese rank the

British PEOPLE in 5th place.


Chinese respondents perceive the UK to offer a balanced mix of both

rich cultural heritage (4th place) and interesting and exciting

contemporary culture such as music, films, art and literature (3rd place).

The US and Russia are countries that the Chinese consider to excel in

sport and the UK is ranked in 6th place.

The bigger picture – Britain as a “nation brand”


The UK is not perceived to be a welcoming destination for the Chinese,

who do not feel they would be made to feel welcome by the British

people, ranking the UK in 16th position compared to the other countries

in the survey. Interestingly, the French are perceived to offer the biggest

welcome to the Chinese, followed by the Australians and Canadians.

The Chinese would most like to have a person from France, Germany or

Canada as a close friend, with the British in 6th position.

In the world of employment, British people do best through Chinese

eyes, coming in 3rd place behind the US and Germany as the preferred

nationality to fill an important position in their company.


If money were no object, France, USA, Germany and the UK would be

the top destinations to visit for the Chinese. The Chinese perceive the

UK to be more a country rich in built heritage/historical heritage (6th),

than rich in natural scenic beauty (11th), compared to the other

countries surveyed.


On aspects of governance, the Chinese perceive the UK to be a country

that behaves responsibly towards international concerns over the

environment and world poverty (7th), and a country that respects the

human rights of its citizens and treats them with fairness (8th).


The UK is ranked as 8th most popular country to live and work in for a

substantial period of time - interestingly France is the most popular.

The US and the UK are considered good places to study for educational


Britain as a Destination Brand –


According to research conducted (pre-ADS) for the development of the

Britain Brand (Project Lion 2002) in China, perceptions of Britain were

fairly limited with key points of interest being its inherent ‘otherness’, its

unique cultural history and its current global standing.

Britain’s (at the time of research) lack of “Approved Destination Status”,

as well visa restrictions that some respondents had experienced,

contributed to a sense of its being a very rigid, serious country, with a

fairly dour population. Some Chinese spoke of its continued influence

throughout the world, and expressed a desire to find out more about its


“ Getting a tourist visa for Britain is very difficult. It depends on the

money you have in the bank, if the hotel has confirmed, etc.”

“England is the origin of the changes that happen in the world, the

source of development.”

At the time of research (pre-ADS), there was little notion of Chinese

people wanting to visit Britain purely for leisure. They spoke of having

an extended stay there, during which they would look to cross off the

key monuments in London, and, in some instances, attempt to gain

some insight or learning that they might take back with them to China.

In addition, there was also some interest in Britain, and London in

particular, in terms of its multi-cultured status. Several people saw this as

providing a sense of security during their trip, as well as a way into the

foreign environment.

Wave 3 2005 of the Anholt-GMI Nation Brands Index, included

questions to measure perceptions of Britain as a holiday destination on

attributes related to Britain’s brand values, DEPTH, HEART & VITALITY.

In the NBI, 1000 Chinese participants rated Britain on a scale of 1-7,

where 1 was “poor” and 7 was “excellent” and overall, they gave a range

of mean scores from 4.83 – 5.35 across the 16 attributes.

DEPTH is the strongest brand value for China overall - a combination of

tradition, cultural events & attractions and stories around the sights in

particular. However, Britain is almost equally likely to be seen as modern

as it is traditional, and our natural scenic beauty is a twin USP to the

heritage & culture dimension.

Being beautiful and relaxing are stronger HEART dimensions for Britain

than the explicitly human ones of friendly, welcoming and sense of


Weaker areas overall are perceptions of Britain having vibrant and

exciting cities and of there being always something new to discover in

Britain. Britain is also relatively weaker perceptually on the VITALITY

elements of energy and sociability.

6) Britain’s Brand Image in China continued

Looking only at the 240 Chinese participants who had ever visited

Britain, perceptions improve somewhat with real experience on ALL

brand dimensions – but this is significantly true for some VITALITY

elements of being a destination that is energetic, sociable and has

vibrant and exciting cities. Perceptions of DEPTH attributes are least

likely to change with experience.

The weakest attribute remains the concept of Britain offering “something

new to discover”, and we must be prepared to address this with the

advent of ADS leisure groups. Unless we can give Chinese visitors

enough to whet the appetite for repeat visits, we run the risk of falling

prey to the “done that / tick-off” mentality.

This is a simplified diagram showing the relative strengths of the

different brand attributes. People were asked to rate Britain on each

attribute using a scale of 1-7 (where 1=poor and 7=excellent). As

nobody rated below 4 or above 6, the diagram has a mid-point of 4 and

an outer rim of 6. Basically, the closer the shading to the outer rim, the

better the perception of Britain on that attribute!


7) Product / Market Fit

General motivators for international travel

VisitBritain’s Online Best Prospects research found that perceived safety

of a destination is of paramount importance to Chinese travellers – with

three-quarters saying it was “extremely important” when considering a

destination. Ease of getting a visa for a destination was rated as

“extremely important” by a third.

Important “product” factors that Chinese travellers look for in a

destination are natural scenic beauty (43% “extremely important”),

well-known landmarks (31%) and friendly local people (30%).

Sources of impressions on Britain

In the Public Diplomacy Brand Tracking research (late 2003), we asked

young (18-40), ABC1, well-educated Chinese respondents to identify

key sources of information that had been most important in helping

them to form an opinion about the UK. The top 5 were:

Internet / Websites 58%

Local Press 41%

National TV news 37%

Books 25%

Word of Mouth (friends & family) 19%

Only 5% felt they knew the UK very well, 41% knew a fair amount, and

54% knew just a little. Chinese respondents felt that they knew the USA

better than the UK.

72% had a favourable opinion about the UK (and only 8% unfavourable).

Top of mind reasons given for favourability were “welcoming / friendly /

courteous” (20%), “culture / lifestyle / heritage” (20%) and “good

opportunities / career” (17%).

Qualitatively, we find that the image of Britain in China is one influenced

by detective novels (e.g. foggy weather, men with beards and walking

sticks). Most Chinese people have limited knowledge of the country.

The perception of Britain is mainly known for its history and heritage:

famous museums and castles, a strong image of the Royal family plus

being famous for its international fashion houses.

Most prospective tourists perceive Britain as an old-fashioned and

conservative country. Britain is associated with the bowler hat, foggy

London, and Charles Dickens-like images. Few people will change their

perception even after a sightseeing trip to Britain, most of which only

embrace UK’s traditional relics.

Journalists can even perpetuate the myths - as a quote from a recent

Chinese focus group demonstrates:

“Chinese newspapers say that Britain is boring, rainy days and fogs –

but my friends tell me there is no fog anymore”

Sources of impressions on Britain continued

Recent qualitative research in China identified a few key culprits of myth

perpetuation – namely Sherlock Holmes, literature from school and

university (e.g. Dickens) and old films such as Waterloo Bridge, The 39

Steps and Death on the Nile – which despite being set in Egypt was a

key source of the “English gentleman” imagery that is so pervasive in

Chinese perceptions.

Limited updates on Britain seemed to be getting through (some

contemporary films e.g. Mr Bean, Notting Hill and Harry Potter).

What products / experiences are most attractive to

Chinese visitors?

History / Heritage / Royalty

In recent qualitative research (September 2005), it was evident that the

Chinese have a mutual respect for Britain’s “1000 year old history” –

they see kinship here between China and Britain. They are very

interested in famous landmarks and monuments that represent the key

sights of Britain’s history and heritage. Royalty and aristocracy are big

draws and the Chinese express an interest in experiencing life in palaces

and castles, following in the footsteps of royalty, etc.

In the Online Best Prospects research (2005), 2/3 agreed that “visiting

castles, churches, monuments, historic houses” would be extremely

important to them during a visit to Britain – by far the most endorsed

product area tested.

7) Product / Market Fit continued

What products / experiences are most attractive to

Chinese visitors? Continued

Education / Oxford & Cambridge / British Culture

In Chinese culture, travelling is a way of self-improvement and learning,

to experience a different culture and increase knowledge of a foreign

country. Interest in centres of learning also extends into an appreciation

of British culture – and particularly the “English Gent”. In China, “WEN

HUA” (culture) is a key part of the travel experience.

“Britain has its own special culture, different to Europe or America”.

Qualifications from British universities hold high prestige, as does the

concept of Britain as the home of the English language and the home

country of the famous writer Shakespeare. It is perceived that having

obtaining an internationally recognised qualification will increase status

and help Chinese citizens find a higher paid job in China.

Britain is strongly associated as the home of the two most famous

universities, Cambridge and Oxford, and there is almost a pilgrimage

facet to the experience sought:

“I’d like to enjoy the thick atmosphere for study in Oxford and


Cambridge is made more famous by a well-known poem written by a

Chinese poet:

Goodbye Again, Cambridge!

I leave softly, gently,

Exactly as I came.

I wave to the western sky,

Telling it goodbye softly, gently.

The golden willow at the river edge

Is the setting sun's bride.

Her quivering reflection

Stays fixed in my mind.

Farewells must be quiet, mute,

Even the summer insects are silent,

Knowing I am leaving.

The Cambridge night is soundless.

I leave quietly

As I came quietly.

I am leaving

Without taking so much

As a piece of cloud.

But with a quick jerk of my sleeve

I wave goodbye.

Natural Scenic Beauty / Landscapes

Britain is perceived in qualitative research to be a clean, green and

orderly place – in stark relief to modern China as cities develop at

breakneck pace.

This concept seems to be a draw for at least 1/3 of prospective visitors.

In the Online Best Prospects research (2005), 38% agreed that “visiting

countryside” would be extremely important to them during a visit to

Britain, 35% for “going to a beach” and 28% for “visiting parks and


Mystery / Unusual

The Chinese consumers we spoke to in recent qualitative research

expressed an interest in mystery, ghost stories and the like, e.g. Harry

Potter, Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes and the Knights of the Round

Table. Trip diaries from that same research suggested an interest in the

unusual, e.g. having photos taken with “men in skirts” (i.e. Scotsmen)!

The UK travel trade also points out that Chinese are very interested in

“superlatives” and dramatic visual appeal – e.g. the “greatest”, “biggest”,

“most unique”, etc.

Green grass on the bank

Dances on a watery floor

In bright reflection.

I wish myself a bit of waterweed

Vibrating to the ripple.

Of the River Cam.

That creek in the shade of the great elms

Is not a creek but a shattered rainbow,

Printed on the water

And inlaid with duckweed,

It is my lost dream.

Hunting a dream?

Wielding a long punting pole

I get my boat into green water,

Into still greener grass.

In a flood of starlight

On a river of silver and diamond

I sing to my heart's content.

But now, no, I cannot sing

With farewell in my heart.


Premiership football is huge in many Asian markets, including China.

Manchester United launched a credit card in July 2005 – China’s first

affinity credit card. As in other Asian markets, David Beckham is an icon.

As many Asian sporting heroes seek to develop their careers in Britain,

for example footballers in the premiership or on the world stage (e.g.

F1), there will be interest in watching their progress, which is an

opportunity to showcase Britain along with the personalities themselves.

Food & Drink

Evidence suggests that the availability of Asian food in a destination is

important for many Asian markets – and particularly so in growth

markets such as China. This also supports multi-cultural/racial Britain.

Not only do we have strong Asian communities, a great quantity of Asian

restaurants and supermarkets, we are also leading at the top levels of

cuisine – as Chinese restaurants like Yautcha and Hakkasaan, exemplify.

In recent qualitative research (September 2005), bland, uninspiring food

did appear on the list of negative factors about Britain more than it did

for positive ones (except in the area of chocolate and sweets for which

Britain is seen in a good light). This suggests that we still have some way

to go in changing perceptions about British food.

Interestingly, there does also appear to be some desire to experience

British regional food & drink (according to the online best prospects

research in emerging markets – where 44% said trying regional food and

drink would be “very important” on a trip to Britain) and particularly an

interest in Britain’s food and drink culture, e.g. afternoon tea and pubs.

There are further opportunities to promote messages around shared

cultural norms in Britain and China, e.g. taking tea.

7) Product / Market Fit continued


Due to the high cost to travel to Britain, and the tradition of buying gifts

for relatives, friends and colleagues, the majority of Chinese would

prefer to save money on the cost of food and accommodation, but

spend more on gifts and local products for themselves. Famous brands

and local products such as Burberry, Clark’s shoes and Scottish whisky

are popular.

According to TFWA, fashion, cosmetics and confectionery are the most

popular products for the Chinese travellers to purchase. Chinese

travellers enjoy shopping and are amongst the biggest spenders during

outbound trips. ($987 per person according to the TFWA website).

However, although it’s important to note that Chinese enjoy shopping

and have strong gift-giving traditions, largely other destinations are a

stronger draw for shopping per se (prime example being Hong Kong).

This is largely due to the perceived expensiveness of Britain.

A similar example can be found with gambling. Although gambling is

supposedly popular amongst Chinese, however they are unlikely to seek

it out as a product driver for Britain – rather destinations like Macau

serve most gambling purposes. Nightlife also is unlikely to be a key draw

for Chinese to Britain as China’s own rapidly developing cities can

compete on a far grander stage.


8) Who is the Chinese visitor?



% %

0 -15 4 10

16-24 6 19

25-34 31 23

35-44 33 25

45-54 14 16

55-64 6 8

65+ 7 0

Travelling Group 2003

% of Visits

Lone traveller 50

As a couple/with partner 8

Group of friends 2

Family group 5

Business colleagues 21

Tour group 13

Don't know 2


63% of Chinese visitors are male (rising to 79% for business visitors – the

majority purpose group) and 37% are female. This split is identical

(63/37) for holiday visits. The split is more even but still biased towards

males for VFR, but there are more women than men coming for study

purposes 59%.

Age data for China fluctuates considerably – largely due to the small

sample sizes in IPS. In 2004, the largest age segment of Chinese visitors

was 25-44 (58% overall). Men in particular are likely to fall into this age

group, with women more evenly spread.

80% of visits from China in 2004 were from Chinese nationals. 11% were

British nationals (expatriates living in China) and 9% were expatriates of

other origin.

In terms of Travelling Group (IPS 2003), half of the visits from China

were from lone travellers, which fits quite well with a largely business

purpose profile, as does the further 21% who travelled with business

colleagues. We can expect this profile to change significantly over the

years following the ADS status for UK.

According to VisitBritain’s Online Best Prospects research (2005), those

who are already planning and/or likely to visit Britain in the next 5 years

are most likely to be aged 25-34. This is tied to the fact that the online

population of China (whom the research panel represented) is heavily

represented by the 25-34 year old age group – more so than the general

population of China.

Most travellers in that survey (84%) would choose to travel to Britain

with their spouse or partner. Adult friends (43%) and adult family

members (31%) were also popular prospective travelling companions.

Half of those who did have dependent children, said that they would

NOT bring the children on a visit to Britain.

8) Who is the Chinese visitor? continued

VB Key Market Segments

For the foreseeable future, only a small fraction of China’s 1.3 billion

population will be in a position to experience the luxury of foreign travel.

Compared to the general population, the people who travel abroad for

long-haul holidays generally have a higher education status and are

more affluent, with a highly paid job. This hypothesis was found to be

true in VisitBritain’s Online Best Prospects research (2005), whereby

those either planning / very likely to visit Britain were more likely than

non-Best Prospects to earn more and be working full-time. They were

likely to be educated to a degree or post-graduate degree level.

The current generation of young travellers in China are keen to enjoy

the fruits of their labour and therefore they choose to travel in order to

increase their knowledge.

The majority of outbound international travellers in China are from

Shanghai, Beijing and the Guangdong province. Guangdong comprises

of Guangzhou as the lead city and Shenzhen with its high GDP and

propensity to travel.

The ADS tourist

ADS opens the gate for Chinese tourists to visit Britain in groups of 5 or

more on a pre-determined and fully escorted itinerary. Previously, the

Chinese could only visit Britain as students or business travellers.

Initially this segment will be very broad: those aged 7 to 70, mostly first

time visitors, families with young kids, DINKS & SINKS and retired


ADS UK-only travellers would be on a really rushed sightseeing package

tour of one week to include London, Oxford or Cambridge, Stratford,

Manchester or Liverpool, the Lake District, Edinburgh, York etc.

If the group go to (or return from) mainland Europe they will have a

3-day London centric tour including a one-day trip to Oxford and

Stratford or Cambridge. They are passionate shoppers for brands.

Business and official visits

Travel in small groups (5-9 people) and usually extend a couple of days

sightseeing after business. This segment comprises those aged between

late 20s to late 50s.

A company or organisation usually covers the cost. 3-4 star or even 5

star hotels for senior people are used.

Education related travel

Usually covers summer/winter camp.

Students will be aged 15-22 taking 2 or 3 weeks at a language school.

There will be a touring/sightseeing programme tagged at the end. The

itinerary covers London, part of England and Scotland and of course

Oxford and Cambridge are ‘must sees’. This group also includes some

VFR travel; Those aged 16–60, who are friends and relatives visiting

students at school and families attending graduation ceremonies.

The majority of this group will be first timers so sightseeing will play an

important part.

With 32,000 Chinese students studying in the UK at any one time, it will

not be a surprise to see the VFR market grow steadily.

Independent travellers

Generally people aged 30-45 who have studied or worked in the UK.

They probably hold key positions in their companies or unit and take

independent holidays with friends, colleagues or families.

They are adventurous and explore a country as well as see famous sites.

They are keen to experience city life, drinks and food, shopping,

museums and pubs, etc. They would travel independently using rail

passes and other good value cards such as the Great British Heritage


London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Glasgow will be the main

destinations. They are likely to stay in budget hotels or B&Bs. They tend

to book a long haul holiday well in advance and take such a trip once a

year or every other year.

A Chinese typology – “Strategic Enrichment”

VisitBritain’s qualitative brand development research (Project Lion 2002)

also identified this kind of “Strategic Enrichment” as a particularly

Chinese typology of international traveller. In this developing economy,

there is a keen desire for self-improvement, which motivates some to

travel to places such as Britain.

In VisitBritain’s Online Best Prospects Research (2005), 67% of Best

Prospects agreed strongly with the statement: “I am willing to cut back

on other things to travel internationally”, indication perhaps of travel as a

necessity in order to enrich life – an absolute must-do.

Project Lion found that these holidaymakers to Britain are particularly

interested to learn more about universities and financial centres such as

the City of London, which might provide some means for progression.

However, such travellers do not want to step very far beyond their

‘comfort zone’.

There is a sense that they might be fairly mercenary in their approach,

looking to get the most out of their trip, with a view to incorporating it

into their lives back at home. In contrast to many non-Westerners, they

are less prone to wanting to look below the surface of Britain, to its

hidden depths.

“Like Hong Kong, it’s a capital of dynamism.”

“Add an introduction about universities there. I want to know about

their education.”

More recent qualitative research in China (September 2005), suggests

that an element of “status anxiety” and peer group conformity will

continue to influence and spread the travel bug that is sweeping China.

Overseas travel has become a badge of sophistication.

“You feel out of the loop if you haven’t been to places they’ve been”.

“The further away, the higher the cost, the prouder you feel”.

“I’d like to show off to my friends that I’ve been to Britain, even if I was

hungry later!”

1st Timers & Repeat Visitors

In 2004 (IPS), 47% of Chinese visitors had visited the UK previously

(in the last 10 years).

9) Understanding Chinese Culture

Practicalities / Language & Information Issues

Chinese (Mandarin or Putonghua) speaking guide is a must.

Chinese characters on the main tourist attractions and streets will make

Chinese tourists feel more comfortable.

Chinese translation on tourist literature is a must for suppliers serious

about investing in this market. Literature should be produced in

‘simplified Chinese’ characters, which is used in mainland China

(different for Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore where ‘traditional

Chinese’ is used). You are better to have something produced in English

rather than in the incorrect Chinese written form.

Having a Chinese website will benefit the potential customer.

Learn a few Chinese greetings. This would impress your Chinese

clients: Hello - Ni Hao / Thank You - Xie Xie / Bye - Zai Jian.

Numbers have a significant meaning in the Chinese culture. For example

the number four (4) should always be avoided as it means death in the

Chinese language and in contrast eight (8) is a good number as it

means fortune.

Provide information on the process of a ‘tax refund’ as the Chinese enjoy

shopping and will view the tax return policy as a discount and incentive

to shop.

For package groups, the details of all the expenses should be clear and

advised upfront. They do not appreciate extra costs being incurred

later on.

For Chinese business travellers, it is common to add-on leisure time for

touring after a day or several days of business. It is better to plan the

schedule and route in advance and rent a car or a small coach if

necessary for transportation.

Tourists joining package tours prefer an all-inclusive service, including

visa application, accommodation and air tickets, etc.

Interaction Tips

Frontline staff will require comprehensive training in order to provide a

better service to the Chinese tourist in such things as providing

guidance on what to do, where to eat and where to go.

“Face” is an important part of Chinese culture. Therefore, do not

embarrass Chinese clients even in a joking manner in public.

Do not imitate the Chinese language in a joking manner. This will deeply

offend your clients.

Kissing and hugging are not a common form of greeting with the

Chinese. Many of them would feel embarrassed, especially between

strangers and members of the opposite sex.

Politics is a relatively sensitive topic amongst the Chinese; therefore it

should be avoided at all cost.

Accommodation / Food & Drink

The Chinese prefer to stay in mid-range hotels. The distinction between

twin and double bed rooms is not clearly understood, however most

would prefer to stay in rooms with separate beds.

Generally customers on package tours will share rooms with the same

sex, but you should ensure this is confirmed with them beforehand.

Chinese tourists are used to eating Chinese style lunch & dinner.

Chinese people are very particular about their food. Most would prefer a

hot meal for breakfast. At least one Chinese meal every two days would

be required.

If accommodation providers do not have a Chinese restaurant or menu

of their own, they should provide a list of suitable Chinese restaurants

within easy access from the hotel.

Supplying Chinese television programmes and Chinese newspapers plus

green tea, toiletries and slippers in the bedroom will put you at a

competitor advantage.

Feeling ‘welcome’ is important to Chinese tourists, so a friendly attitude

and a warm welcome is important.

Bed and Breakfast accommodation may come as a shock for most first

time Chinese travellers, as B&B’s do not exist in China.

Most Chinese tourists will not be afraid to voice their complaints to their

Chinese tour guides if service levels and accommodation expectations

are not met or they do not perceive ‘value for money.’


10) Reaching Chinese Consumers

Deciding, planning & booking patterns

Decision making / destination progression

Recent qualitative research found that key sources of information when

planning international travel are word of mouth, the Internet (used at the

active search phase with “CTRIP” being one of the most successful

online travel companies) and TV (NTO advertising, travel programmes,

general programming, e.g. Korean soap operas).

Chinese consumers are bombarded with messages about travel from

print newspapers (with enormous travel sections), outdoor media (e.g.

moving LCD posters, subway / elevator ads) and ads in the windows of

travel agents.

Travel exposure also acts as a springboard to other destinations:

“I saw an Egyptian display in a museum in France – I’d like to go

to Egypt”.

Research suggests that there is a leisure travel progression through

destinations (from domestic, through Hong Kong / Macau to Short Haul,

Mid Haul, Long Haul) – largely linked to cost, distance and crucially

perceived accessibility. It is no co-incidence that the USA and non-

Schengen destinations (like the UK) appear at the very end of the

progression. We know from discussion on visas that the more successful

applications you have had will influence future consideration – and this

perpetuates the need to achieve “easier” visas first.

Group tours / reliance on travel trade

Chinese consumers are required to book through a licensed agent for

ADS leisure travel. Agents are the key to the ADS visa issuance process.

Government delegations and technical visits are not required to book

through a CNTA approved agent.

Most Chinese tourists book their holiday through an agent and travel by

tour groups, especially when travelling to Europe for the first time. Prior

to ADS, only those who are travelling to Britain for study, business and

VFR purposes (with a letter of invitation) could apply for a visa

individually. ADS group visas must be bought via a travel agent.

Group tours and agents are popular with travellers because they make

travel stress free and convenient and offer some element of cocooning

for new and difficult destinations (especially with language barriers).

Recent qualitative research (September 2005) suggests that consumers

like to book through larger, better known operators (“famous ones”) as

they are considered more reliable.

Indications are that the Chinese nationals who have more travel

experience and no language barrier would prefer to travel by themselves

after booking accommodation and air tickets. The number of bookings

online for domestic travel is increasing, but not so much for international

travel as yet. Chinese consumers require information in the Chinese

language (simplified version)

Travel Trade Knowledge of Britain

Chinese travel trade knowledge on Britain is limited. UK packages sold

in China are either London/Britain being a part (1-2 days) of a multi

European destination tour or a weeklong Britain tour visiting landmark

attractions (very often only photo stops outside). The experience in

Britain usually is just a characterless combination of photo stops and

shopping – unimaginative and standardised. Tourists are unable to

appreciate Britain fully.

However there are indications that consumers themselves perpetuate

the situation by wanting to see as much as possible in as short amount of

time as possible. In recent focus groups, although they expressed an

interest in relaxing and savouring cultural experiences, when asked to

design ideal itineraries these were invariably exhausting!

“A trip to Britain will be rushed and tiring but valuable”.

In recent qualitative research with Chinese UK-ADS accredited agents,

we found that they see Britain as somewhat different from continental

Europe – which on one hand is positive in that it is a differentiator, on

the other it relegates Britain as a second string choice for those wanting

to savour “the essence of Europe” in one trip.

As with consumers, the trade have a lack of general knowledge about

Britain and what knowledge there is – is somewhat dated (foggy

London, bowler-hatted gentlemen).

Britain also has some catching up to do with other European countries in

terms of the number of packages in which it features. Currently

Liechtenstein is included in more packages, and for every tour that

includes Britain, – four include France.


Consumers are price conscious and competitive pricing is a feature in

the market. Differences in available packages tend to be on price rather

than what the package includes. Some agents have started to launch

high-end programs.

Media Habits

Travel information is becoming increasingly available through a variety of

media: the Internet, travel magazines, books and television programmes.

VisitBritain’s Online Best Prospects research (2005) found that Chinese

prospects did the following at some point on a DAILY basis:

When we asked them to choose the most frequently accessed media

Read local newspaper 79%

Access national websites 76%

Watch local TV channels 72%

Watch national TV channels 71%

Watch cable / satellite channels 65%

Access international websites 65%

Read national newspaper 53%

Listen to national radio 46%

Listen to local radio 44%

from the list, the top 3 were: international and national websites, and

cable / satellite channels – indicating a very outward focussed

consumption pattern.

Access international websites 33%

Access national websites 26%

Watch cable / satellite channels 10%

Read national newspaper 9%

Watch local TV channels 9%

Watch national TV channels 7%

Read local newspaper 5%

Press Trips

VisitBritain hosts press trips each year, escorting selected journalists on

each trip. Hosting possibilities are available and if you are interested in

becoming involved, then please contact our Press and PR department.

VisitBritain also hosts many individual press visits over the course of the

year, aiding journalists from publications with over 100,000 circulation

and those that have definitive assignments.

10) Reaching Chinese Consumers continued

Media Sources

National Newspapers

China Daily (English)

21st Century Business Herald (English)

The Economic Observer

China Business News

National Business Daily

Nanfang Daily

Oriental Morning Post

Modern Weekly

Yangzi Evening News

Xinhua Daily

Xinhua Daily Telegraph

Global Times

People's Daily

China Times

Economic Daily

International Herald

International Business Daily

The Economic Observer

CAAC Journal

Beijing Newspapers

Beijing Youth Daily

Beijing Times

Beijing Daily Messenger

Beijing Evening News

Beijin Daily

The Beijing News

Beijing Morning Post

The First

Shanghai Newspapers

Shanghai Morning Post (Shanghai)

Shanghai Times (Shanghai)

Oriental Morning Post (Shanghai)

Xinmin Evening News (Shanghai/also national)

Major Ladies’ Magazines



Metropolis BIBA

Rayli Pretty

Rayli Goo




Major Men’s Magazines



Men’s Health


The Outlook Magazine





Travel + Leisure

World Traveller

Ctrip Magazine

National Geographic Traveler

Travelling Scope

City Tourism



Tourism Magazine

Global Travel

Euro Travel

Air Travel

China Travel News

Travel Weekly China

TTN China

TTG China

Online Environment

With the fast growing media and Internet industry, information is more

widely available within China. The ETC estimate that 9.5% of Chinese

have Internet access (2005).

However, there are different figures from different surveys. According

to Internet World Stats (March 2005), there were 94 million (7.3% of the

population) Internet users in China and according to the International

Telecommunication Union (ITU) there are 176 million (13% of the

population) Internet users.

It is estimated there will be at least 250 million Internet users in China by

the end of 2005.

According to VisitBritain research (2005), amongst ‘Online Best

Prospects’, international websites represent the most frequently used

media (33%), followed by national websites (26%).

The majority (90%) of these “Online Best Prospects” would consult the

Internet if planning a trip to Britain and 73% would consult a travel agent

/ tour operator.

Some popular travel related websites in China include: / (NetEase)


11) The Trade

Overview of trade structure

The Chinese government has a tight grip on its outbound market by

controlling the destinations in which its citizens visit through the ADS

policy on destination approval. The government also controls the

amount of money that is spent on travelling.

As a national tourist organisation, the State Council regulates the China

National Tourism Authority (CNTA). They are directly responsible for

promoting the Chinese tourism industry.

The Public Security Bureau (PBS) is in charge of monitoring and issuing

passports to Mainland Chinese nationals.

Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) supervises the distribution of

airline tickets.

Travel retailers act as both tour operators and travel agencies for

domestic, inbound and outbound travel. The roles between wholesalers

and retailers in China are not clearly defined.

Before 2005, foreign owned travel agencies were allowed a controlling

stake in joint ventures with the government. However, from 2005,

agencies are allowed to be wholly owned by foreigners. These

companies need to have a worldwide turnover of US$40 million and will

not be able to conduct outbound business travel.

The large Chinese outbound operators conduct the most Chinese

outbound travel. For example, China International Travel Service (CITS),

China Travel Service (CTS) and China Youth Travel Service (CYTS).

Chinese Wholesales / Large Agents

Commission Level: 15-20%

Wholesale travel agents began to emerge in China in 2003. A few

authorised outbound international travel agents in Beijing, Shanghai and

Guangzhou take bookings from other domestic travel agents, in

particular those who operate outside of the traditional ADS regions, who

are not large enough to form their own groups.

This is referred to as a “CAN (pronounced as “chanc”) TUAN or merge

tours”. Although they do not operate in the traditional sense of a

wholesaler, these agents are referred to as Wholesale-Retail agents.

Chinese Retail Agents

Commission Level: 5-10%

As there are no independent retail outlets, all operators must handle the

full dynamics of the wholesaling and retailing role (acting as both tour

operator and travel agency), including creating products, promoting the

products and selling the products.

The Chinese travel trade is currently divided into two categories:

International travel agents and domestic travel agents:

• International travel agents can organise inbound travel and domestic

travel. Selected agencies can also organise outbound travel.

• Domestic travel agents can only organise travel within China.

There are 670 CNTA travel agents in China authorised to handle

outbound travel arrangements under ADS.

The British Embassy have confirmed there will be no more than 50

Chinese outbound tour operators across the country authorised to sell

ADS travel following their risk assessment process.

The table below is a list of the largest outbound agents.

Beijing Shanghai Guangdong

1. CTS Head Office * 1. Jin Jiang 1. GZL International

Travel Service

2. China Comfort 2. Hua Ting 2. CTS Guangdong *

3. CYTS * 3. CITS Guangdong *

4. Shantou Tourism

General Co

* CITS: China International Travel Services

* CTS: China Travel Service

* CYTS: China Youth Travel Service


Representatives can distribute brochures and undertake marketing on

your behalf. They have knowledge of the market and can offer advice on

how the product should be packaged and sold.

British Incoming Tour Operators

British Incoming Tour Operators must be approved by VisitBritain,

UKinbound or ETOA (European Tour Operators Association) to handle

ADS leisure business from approved Chinese agents. This requires a

declaration by an inbound operator to meet set criteria.

Reaching the Chinese Travel Trade

Sales Calls

The best time to visit is March to early April and mid October to early


It is recommended you visit the market with an interpreter/guide if you

do not have strong Chinese language skills. The English language is less

common than in other Asian markets.

We recommend in the short term you concentrate your efforts on the

three main centres for potential traffic, these being Beijing, Shanghai

and Guangdong province.

Sales Calls – Top Tips

Plan early! Try and visit when VisitBritain is organising or participating in

a consumer or trade event, which would give you greater exposure than

you might otherwise receive. Make an appointment to see the local

VisitBritain office at the start of your visit. They will update you on the

current market situation and the potential of your travel product within

the local area.

When making appointments it is best to avoid Monday mornings and

Friday afternoons.

Be sure to have a good supply of business cards and brochures with

you. Use both hands to present and receive business cards with the

writing always facing the recipient.

Never write on a business card or put it away without closely reading it

and never put in your back pocket. Instead place it on the table in front

of you and refer to it occasionally throughout the meeting.

It is recommended business cards are printed one side in English and

the reverse in Chinese (simplified characters).

The Chinese trade require information (print / web) in the Chinese

language (simplified version).

Bargaining is a way of life with the Chinese. Therefore even a small

discount would make your business transaction run smoothly.

Learn a few Chinese greetings. This would impress your Chinese

clients: Hello - Ni Hao / Thank You - Xie Xie / Bye - Zai Jian.

Avoid Public Holidays

Trade Fairs

The World Travel Fair (2006 Shanghai) will be held 31 Mar - 2 Apr 2006

12) Business Visits / Events

Business Visits Statistics & Trends


Business Visitors China Visits 2004 % Business Visits Spend 2004 % Business Spend

(000) % £m %

Trade Fair / Exhibition 1 3.1 0 1.3

Conference / Large Meeting 8 23.4 11 30.4

Other Business 26 73.5 24 68.3

Business Visitors China AEV AED ALS

£ £ Days

Trade Fair / Exhibition 405 132 3.1

Conference / Large Meeting 1,290 185 7.0

Other Business 920 58 15.8

In 2004, 38% of all visits from China to the UK were for business

purposes – and this accounted for 27% of all spend.

Chinese BUSINESS visits are 26% Conferences, Large meetings, Trade

Fairs or Exhibitions and 74% individual business travel.

It is impossible to estimate from IPS the proportion of Business travel

that is Incentive travel.

13) VisitBritain in China

Working in Partnership with VisitBritain

There are many ways of working in partnership with VisitBritain in any of

our 37 global markets. We deliver numerous marketing campaigns and

produce various targeted guides and publications which are seen by

millions of potential visitors throughout the world - offering excellent

advertising and partnership opportunities.

We undertake both print and online advertising, and produce

e-newsletters communicating with both consumers (via our substantial

databases) and our trade partners on-territory whilst the exhibitions,

workshops, sales missions and media events we organise provide the

perfect platform to promote your product firsthand to trade, press and

consumer visitors.

In some markets where the travel trade remains a crucial element of the

booking process we produce Agents’ Sales Guides and offer Agents’ online

training programmes to ensure both the destination and range of

British tourism product is at the forefront of the travel agent's mind.

For more details on these and other diverse opportunities in markets of

interest to you, please visit our UK Industry Website and read our

worldwide marketing prospectus, or contact your VisitBritain

representative in London or overseas.

Overseas Contacts

VisitBritain – Beijing Representative

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy

4/F Landmark Building Tower 1

8 North Dongsanhuan Road

Chaoyang District




Charlie Li

Tel: (8610) 6590 6903, Ext 209

Fax: (8610) 6590 0977

VisitBritain – Shanghai Representative

British Consulate General Shanghai

1st Floor Pidemco Tower

318 Fu Zhou Lu




Travis Qian

Tel: (8621) 6391 2626, Ext 275

Fax: (8621) 6391 2121

London Contacts / Further information

For any further information relating to the Chinese market, please

contact the London-based International Markets Team


Alternatively, visit VisitBritain’s dedicated website for the UK tourism


Why not sign up to our Industry E-Newsletter, or register with

VisitBritain to be kept up to date with all that’s new in China and

other markets worldwide?

Information Sources used to compile this report

• International Passenger Survey figures (IPS) 2004 (Office for National


NB: Data from International Passenger Survey has been made available

by the Office for National Statistics and has been used by permission.

The ONS do not bear any reponsibililty for the analysis or interpretation

of the data reported here.

• Anholt-GMI Nation Brands Index – Waves 2 & 3 2005 (Quantitative)

• VisitBritain / BAA China Research – 2005 (Qualitative)

• VisitBritain Emerging Markets Online Best Prospects Research – 2005


• VB Foresight

• Public Diplomacy Brand Tracking Research – 2003 (Quantitative)

• Project Lion – VB Brand Development Research – 2002 (Qualitative)

• IMF / Economist / US Census Bureau

• Global Tourism Navigator

• ETC (European Travel Commission) and ETC New Media Review


• VisitBritain China Business Plans, Insights and Intelligence

Reports 2005

Some useful websites:










Printed in England

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in partnership with England’s tourism industry.

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