English cities target Chinese with £1.2m project

London, Manchester, Birmingham have announced a £1.2 million tourism campaign to make it easier for Chinese visitors to explore England.

The cities and surrounding areas are working on a project called Experience England, which will offer tailored packages for Chinese tourists looking to visit London, Manchester and Birmingham, as well as trips to surrounding villages and areas such as The Lake District.

Led by London & Partners, the mayor of London’s official promotional agency, the project will include Marketing Manchester and the West Midlands Growth Company.

It will be financed by a £1.2 million grant awarded from the £40 million Discover England Fund administered by VisitEngland.

Experience England aims to provide a seamless “one-stop-shop” for flights, hotels and transport between destinations alongside fixed and flexible itineraries in multiple English destinations.

Packages will be available via leading Chinese travel provider, Qunar.com, and could include shopping trips to London’s West End, a VIP trip to English Premier League Champions, Manchester City, and a tour of Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The partnership between the three cities and Qunar was announced in Shanghai by London’s deputy mayor, Rajesh Agrawal and Weiping He, chief technology officer and hotel business vice president at Qunar.

London & Partners estimates the number of Chinese visitors to London will increase by more than 100% by 2025.

Manchester, served by two direct flights from Beijing and Hong Kong, welcomes the second highest number of Chinese visitors in England. Marketing Manchester has been working in China representing a consortium of Northern England partners such as the Lake District, Liverpool and York.

Agrawal said: “London and China have deep-rooted cultural ties and this partnership is further proof of our special relationship.

“London’s world-class attractions, shops and restaurants makes our city a fantastic choice for Chinese visitors looking for a unique holiday experience.

“But we are also committed to working with other cities and regions across the country to showcase the very best of England’s diverse visitor offering.

“As the UK’s most connected city, London is an ideal starting point for international visitors wanting to explore the rest of the country.”

Sally Balcombe, VisitEngland chief executive, added: “The Experience England project inspires Chinese visitors to explore more of the country, making it easier for them to experience the cultural heritage, vibrancy and diversity of our regions and boosting growth from tourism across England.”

Family enjoying a day out in Chinatown, London, during Chinese New Year. Walking along a street decorated with red Chinese Lanterns.

Picture credit: ©VisitBritain/Andy Hall