• Matthew Grandage

Getting your attraction onto the "Chinese tourist map"

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard photocredit Knowledge Power

Q. Don't most Chinese tourists come to the UK on package tours?

A. Not anymore! According to VisitBritain, the number of independent Chinese visitors to the UK is now 4 times higher than those on organised tours. And that's not counting all the Chinese students and other long-term residents who want to explore more of Britain.[1]

Q. How much do Chinese tourists spend in the UK compared with the average visitor?

A. 4 times as much! (that's a nice coincidence) They also participate in leisure activities and visit attractions (especially museums and castles) more than the average tourist.[2] [3]

It's probably not surprising to most people that Chinese tourists like to spend. We've got used to the fact that China has a huge and growing middle class, large numbers of wealthy, and (since 2016) more billionaires than any other country. We're used to images of Chinese tourists picking up luxury "bargains" on Regent Street and at Bicester Village.

But the statistic about package tours? This one often takes people by surprise. Most Chinese tourists nowadays arrange their own itinerary and come to the UK with their spouse or just a few adult friends. Amazingly, Chinese tourists are as likely to be travelling alone as with a tour group!

Another surprise is that Chinese tourists are most likely to get their holiday ideas for multiple online sources (especially blogs and review sites), and not from talking with friends or family.[4]

Added together these factors mean that UK tourist attractions have a great new opportunity to draw in Chinese visitors. In the past, if you were" off the package tour route" then there was nothing else you could do. But now, targeted marketing and customer service can really make a difference and put you on the Chinese map.

Connecting with Chinese tourists

There are certain steps you can take to make your attraction stand out from others, as far as Chinese visitors go. Some are relatively easy, others require a bit more effort, but all will make a difference. Here are some starters:

  • treat your Chinese visitors well – they are far more likely to write online reviews about you than others.

  • ask for their opinions and pay special attention to their responses. Find out if they consulted any online resources before visiting.

  • add some helpful Chinese text at the entrance and around your site – welcome signs, toilets, etc.

  • get a page included on your website that is specifically aimed at Chinese visitors, and in simplified Chinese characters.

  • have your site linked to the key Chinese tourism websites and blogs (QiongYou, CTrip etc)

  • arrange for the use of Alipay and Unionpay – the payment methods that are most used in China (Visa and American Express are not so common).

There are other creative things you can do too – invite your local Chinese association, look for historic links between your attraction and China, welcome a Chinese lifestyle magazine to visit and write a review, and more besides.

Think of all these as long-term development aims. You probably can't do them all at once, but you can start with one or two – and we suggest these should be a Chinese language page to add to your website and a brochure. Those two items will make a huge difference to your profile among Chinese visitors, and to the quality and enjoyment of their visit. Remember: if they like you…more will come.

Write to for details of how we can help you put your tourist attraction on the Chinese map for as little as £490.

[1] p43

[2] Ditto p36

[3] Ditto p46

[4] Ditto p21