Opinion

Is Kent ready to feel the unstoppable Chinese tourism growth?

Currently, only 8.7% of Chinese have a passport yet this still equates to 120million who have the ability to travel overseas. By as soon as next year that could jump to 240 million (according to Jing Travel). And with a population of 1.4 billion people, the growth of the Chinese tourist seems unstoppable.

According to a recent report from Ctrip.com International, European travel accounted for about 11-percent of all Chinese outbound tourists in 2018, making it the second most popular continent for travellers after Asia.

Is it any wonder tourist boards are falling over themselves to woo the country’s expanding army of middle-class travellers into the UK. VisitBritain’s GREAT China Welcome campaign, for example, was launched in 2014. Hotels, tour operators and attractions are being urged to make themselves “China-ready” by providing information in Mandarin or Cantonese and adapting their products for the Chinese market and culture.

Increases in tourism to destinations like the U.K. and France have been a boon for luxury retailers who rely on tourist spending. Burberry, for example, stated in its year-end earnings release that it saw an increase in Chinese tourist spending at its U.K. stores. Not surprisingly the UK, France and Germany are three countries in Europe to have relaxed visa requirements for the Chinese.

The Chinese already like the UK

Why Kent could be an unlikely beneficator?

The Chinese love to shop and have fun so London is always going to be a strong draw for them, but with Bluewater shopping centre and the new Theme park due for completion in a few years neighbouring the centre, this will absolutely be waving a big, warm welcome sign to them too.

The Chinese like to do lots with their time and visit as many attractions each day, in some cases as many as 5 a day. Their typical vacation is 17 days when visiting the UK (long haul destination), so it stands to reason any London trip will see some cross over into Kent. The train and road connections are aligned very well to make this possible.

Those Chinese, who by the way tend to be younger than usual at around 18-34 years old, like Britain. 77% of departing staying holidaymakers from China were ‘extremely likely’ to recommend Britain for a holiday or short-break. The word will spread and more will travel to our shores.

It is the sheer scale of Chinese travellers that means even a tiny slice being drawn into the county of Kent will have significant impacts. By 2030 the Chinese will account for almost a quarter of all trips. According to a Golfmansachs.com Report by 2025 220million Chinese will be all set to travel overseas that year.

Inspire has seen the impact of the Chinese traveller first hand from its sister media ‘Inspire Bangkok’ in Thailand where in a matter of 3 years they have gone from single digit to over 50% of all tourists arriving in the country.

The UK will, without question, start to feel this and that will include Kent.


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Dan

Dan is Managing Director for Inspire Kent and Choice Group Asia Media Group, which includes some of the biggest media for foreigners in Thailand.

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