CHINA Market & Trade Profile -

CHINA Market & Trade Profile -

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).

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