Britain gears up for bumper Chinese New Year

Chinese visitor numbers are soaring in January, thanks to the fall in sterling and a record number of Chinese New Year celebrations in Britain.

January 27 marks the start of the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese calendar, and VisitBritain is shining a spotlight on British celebrations, which are some of the largest Chinese New Year festivals outside Asia.

Patricia Yates, VisitBritain director, said: “China is the world’s largest outbound market and a huge tourism opportunity for Britain.

“Chinese New Year is traditionally one of the busiest travel times for Chinese travellers and with Britain offering great value right now, we want to make sure the UK is at the top of their list as a must-go now destination.”

At the end of December 2016, Britain was 11% more affordable for visitors from China compared with the same month in 2015.

And figures from analysts ForwardKeys shows that flight bookings from China to the UK for January are up 81% year-on-year and up 43% for January–March.

More than 70,000 visitors are expected to watch the Chinese New Year celebrations in London, which includes a parade from Chinatown to Trafalgar Square.

Manchester will stage a Dragon Parade, led by a 50-foot dragon, ending in Chinatown which will be filled with traditional Chinese entertainment, more than 6,000 lanterns, street food villages and a fireworks finale.

This year will also see the international art exhibition Lanterns of the Terracotta Warriors held in Manchester for the celebrations.

Significant celebrations will also be taking place in Birmingham, Cumbria, Edinburgh, the Isle of Wight, Leeds and Liverpool among others.

Chinese visitors stay longer and travel more widely across Britain than other international visitors, averaging 15 nights compared to eight for other visitors, with more than half of this time spent outside London.

They are some of the highest spending visitors to the UK, spending on average £2,174 during each visit, more than three times the average visitor.

Every 22 additional Chinese visitors that Britain attract supports an additional job in tourism in the UK.