UK wel­come mat for Chi­nese tourists

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By LI­WEN­FANG in Guangzhou li­wen­fang@chi­

The sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of the visa process for Chi­nese vis­i­tors to the United King­dom could cause spend­ing by this con­sumer group in Lon­don to go up by 141 per­cent, to 500 mil­lion pounds ($833 mil­lion) a year by 2020, a re­port said Thurs­day.

To­tal over­seas spend­ing in the Bri­tish cap­i­tal is ex­pected to ex­pand by 47 per­cent in the same pe­riod, saidMarie Hickey, as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of re­search at Sav­ills, an in­ter­na­tional real es­tate ad­viser, in the re­port.

“The Chi­nese are now the big­gest spend­ing trav­el­ers glob­ally, and with ini­tia­tives in place to make vis­it­ing the UK eas­ier, the re­tail sec­tor should see a pos­i­tive im­pact over the forth­com­ing years, with Lon­don set to ben­e­fit the most,” Hickey said.

TheUK­plans to make it eas­ier for Chi­nese na­tion­als to ap­ply for visas to visit the coun­try, UK Chan­cel­lor of the Ex­che­quer Ge­orge Os­borne an­nounced last Oc­to­ber while vis­it­ing China.

Ex­pected larger num­bers of Chi­nese vis­i­tors should in­crease the de­mand for new en­trants into CentralLondon, with re­tail­ers hop­ing to test the wa­ters be­fore en­ter­ing Asian mar­kets, re­port.

Fifty-five in­ter­na­tional brands opened their first UK stores in Lon­don in the past three years.

“Lon­don’s ris­ing promi­nence as a global re­tail des­ti­na­tion means that we ex­pect oc­cu­pa­tional de­mand to in­ten­sify, putting up­ward pres­sure on rents on all key pitches in theWest End, par­tic­u­larly on the lux­ury pitches,” said Anthony Sel­wyn, head of Cen­tral Lon­don re­tail, Sav­ills.

“Over the next 18 months, we ex­pect Bond Street’s prime Zone A rents to ex­ceed 1,500 pounds per square foot — up 15 per­cent from where they are now— with Bromp­ton Road likely to see the great­est up­lift in the re­gion with 20 per­cent.”

Chi­nese shop­pers have be­come the big­gest con­sumers of lux­ury goods in the world, ac­count­ing for 29 per­cent of global con­sump­tion, said James Macdon­ald, head of re­search for Sav­ills in China, cit­ing fig­ures from Bain & Co.

How­ever, China’s re­tail stores ac­count for only 7 per­cent of the sales, with only one-third of pur­chases by Chi­nese tak­ing place on the Chi­nese main­land.

An­other one-third takes place in Hong Kong, Tai­wan andMa­cao, and the re­main­der is in other coun­tries.




The rea­sons in­clude the rel­a­tive strength of the ren­minbi, the lower price point of goods and broader prod­uct range in over­seas mar­kets, and in­creased trav­els. “These fac­tors are likely to re­main for the fore­see­able fu­ture, driv­ing con­sump­tion in over­seas mar­kets by Chi­nese shop­pers,” Macdon­ald said.

A record 291,919 visas were is­sued to Chi­nese vis­i­tors last year, up 39 per­cent year-on-year, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment on the web­site of the UK govern­ment in Fe­bru­ary, cit­ing the Of­fice of Na­tional Sta­tis­tics.

“The UK saw a larger rise in visit visas from China than from any­where else in the world dur­ing 2013. And de­spite the sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in de­mand, the UK pro­cessed visas in an aver­age of 7.2 days. Of those who ap­plied across all visa cat­e­gories, on aver­age, 96 per­cent were suc­cess­ful,” said the state­ment.

“The in­crease demon­strates that the new UK Visas & Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vice’s com­mit­ment to cus­tomer ser­vice is hav­ing an ef­fect.”

Bri­tish Am­bas­sador to China Se­bas­tian Wood de­scribed the sta­tis­tics as both strik­ing and en­cour­ag­ing, adding that the visa sys­tem is sup­port­ing the growth of the UK’s eco­nomic, ed­u­ca­tional and tourism re­la­tion­ship with China.


Chi­nese tourists shop at Har­rods depart­ment store in Lon­don. Chi­nese shop­pers have be­come the big­gest con­sumers of lux­ury goods in the world, ac­count­ing for 29 per­cent of global con­sump­tion.

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