UK DRAWS MORE TOURISTS

China Daily (USA) - - FOCUS | BUSINESS - By SHI JING in Shang­hai Con­tact the writer at @ chi­nadaily.com.cn

The United King­dom has un­ex­pect­edly emerged as a pop­u­lar travel des­ti­na­tion among Chi­nese tourists, espe­cially in the sec­ond half of the year, in­dus­try ex­perts said.

Ac­cord­ing to Ctrip, China’s largest on­line travel agency, the UK reg­is­tered the big­gest an­nual in­crease dur­ing the seven-day Na­tional Day hol­i­day in Oc­to­ber. The num­ber of tourists book­ing trips via Ctrip rose by 60 per­cent dur­ing the hol­i­day.

Ctrip’s sales of UK pack­ages are not com­pa­ra­ble to those for Ja­pan, South Korea or Thai­land as the dis­tance is longer and the cost higher. But they have out­num­bered trips to an­other pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion, Aus­tralia, and are ap­proach­ing long-time fa­vorites such as the United States, Italy and France.

Zhu Lin­lin, a com­mu­ni­ca­tions spe­cial­ist at a Shang­haibased multi­na­tional in­sur­ance com­pany, flew to the UK dur­ing the Na­tional Day hol­i­day. Be­fore go­ing there, Zhang did not have very high ex­pec­ta­tions. But the trip turned out to be quite a sur­prise.

“There is so much to see — the mu­se­ums, the cas­tles, uni­ver­si­ties and even just the nat­u­ral scenery. While peo­ple used to say that tourists in the UK will be fed up with fish and chips, I would like to say that they are all wrong. The choices are plenty. I ate to my heart’s con­tent at ev­ery meal there. Since the pound has been quite low af­ter Brexit, the whole trip was re­ally worth the money,” she said.

Af­ter the peak travel sea­son ended with the Na­tional Day hol­i­day, Ctrip pack­ages be­came cheaper by 10 to 20 per­cent. So, Chi­nese tourists’ in­ter­est in the UK per­sisted, ready for the big Christ­mas-re­lated sales in De­cem­ber and New Year sales in Jan­uary.

Li Yi, a fash­ion buyer based in Shang­hai, vis­ited the UK in late Oc­to­ber. Now, as the sales sea­son is around the cor­ner, she has booked fresh flight tick­ets for Jan­uary.

“I used to live in Lon­don. I lived there for six years. It can be said that my un­der­stand­ing of the fash­ion busi­ness started to take shape there. There are so many fash­ion brands which are re­ally chic and unique al­though they are less known com­pared to big names. It is bet­ter for me to go there and check out the lat­est trends. And, of course, the prices are very at­trac­tive,” she said.

To cater to the grow­ing de­mand of Chi­nese trav­el­ers, ho­tels and air­lines have come out with spe­cial of­fers. As the year winds to a close, the shop­ping sea­son with big events like Black Fri­day and Christ­mas sales is sure to lure thou­sands of Chi­nese trav­el­ers, in­dus­try ex­perts said.

Como Metropoli­tan Lon­don, lo­cated in the cen­tral part of the city, pro­vides its guests with per­son­al­ized shop­ping guid­ance ser­vices at the out­let store Bices­ter Vil­lage. Be­sides, an ad­di­tional 10 per­cent dis­count is pro­vided to Como’s guests at this out­let.

Bri­tish Air­ways charges its busi­ness-class pas­sen­gers 14,800 yuan ($2,172) each for a re­turn trip from Shang­hai to the UK, if a group of two to five peo­ple book tick­ets to­gether by the end of Novem­ber. Trav­el­ers fly­ing from Chengdu or Bei­jing can en­joy sep­a­rate dis­counts. The spe­cial group pack­ages through the year cover hol­i­days in­clud­ing Christ­mas, New Year, Chi­nese New Year, Valen­tine’s Day and La­bor Day.

REUTERS

Chi­nese tourists take pic­tures in front of a line of Chi­nese and Bri­tish flags at the Mall in Lon­don.

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