Central London’s high-end store owners are celebrating after a busy Golden Week that saw – according to figures released exclusively to the Asia Times – Chinese tourist spending in the UK capital increase by an astounding 300%.
These sales figures, seen on the day the pound fell to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985, cover retail purchases by Chinese shoppers across London’s West End, the capital’s core shopping district.
While retail purchases by Chinese consumers increased by 307%, the average transaction value increased by 109% to now stand at a staggering £1,256.
“This year’s Golden Week was always set to be a very different story to last year, when spend from Chinese visitors was down 8% on the same period in 2014, following China’s stock market crash.” said Jace Tyrrell, Chief Executive of New West End Company.
China’s Golden Week, first implemented by the Central Government in 1998 primarily as a means of boosting the economy through domestic tourism.
Something like 750 million people now travel during these two periods, either to visit relatives or for vacations, with increasing numbers now venturing overseas. An estimated five million Golden Week tourists left China in 2016
This new type of Chinese travellers is being targeted by an ever increasing array of enticements that would have been the stuff of fantasy even just five years ago.
This can all be seen as part of a wider strategy that formally came into play at the end of August when the UK Prime Minister Theresa May sought to place more emphasis on inbound tourism, already worth £26 billion annually to the UK economy, and launched a “Tourism Action Plan”.
VisitBritain has ambitions to double the spend from Chinese visitors to £1 billion annually by 2020 and it’s a strategy that – thanks to the plummeting pound – looks set to stay on target for the rest of 2016, at least.
Latest flight booking data from ForwardKeys shows bookings from China to the UK are up 24% for October to December 2016 compared to the same period last year. Will they return again soon? That may well depend on the pound.
(Source: Asia Times)