A relaxation of visa applications for Chinese tourists could be about to give tourism in Bath a boost.
Bath, and the city’s famous Roman Baths in particular, is one of the most popular attractions for Chinese tourists in Britain, according to Visit Britain. Last year the Roman Baths attracted 71,000 Mandarin-speaking visitors.
That now looks set to increase as, from the autumn, Chinese visitors to the UK and Ireland will be able to use a single visitor visa without requiring a separate visa to travel to each of these two countries.
According to new research from Barclays, working in partnership with Visit Britain, the South West is the preferred destination for Chinese tourists.
Between 2014 and 2017, the biggest growth will be in spending by visitors from China, the United Arab Emirates and Russia, according to the research. It predicts Chinese spend will increase by 84 per cent from 2013 levels, reaching £1bn per annum in 2017 in a total market of £27bn, and that Chinese spending could reach £1bn per annum by 2017, making up almost four per cent of the total market.
Paul Crossley, leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “It is obvious that Chinese tourists are going to become even more important to Bath. We must make sure we work together with local tourism businesses￼ to encourage this and to make sure that we cater properly for this market.
“The council-run museums are leading the way in this and we hope that this will help to make it easy for other tourism organisations to provide Chinese-friendly services for visitors.”
To coincide with the visa announcement Bath is launching a campaign to welcome more Chinese visitors.
Bath Tourism Plus has launched the Bath China Welcome programme with the help of the University of Bath. The purpose of the campaign is to give businesses the support they need to help attract the Chinese market.
Chief executive Nick Brooks-Sykes, said: “Our aim is to make Bath the most China friendly destination in England. We are calling all businesses to join our initiative, encourage tourism businesses as well as retailers who want to grow this lucrative market to get involved and contact Bath Tourism Plus.
“This new campaign will help further grow the industry’s current £375-million visitor economy with the launch of a Mandarin website, social media campaign and programme of travel trade and press activity.”
The group is co-ordinating business support activities such as briefings to understand market trends, culture and etiquette as well as Mandarin.
China is now the world’s largest outbound tourism market and the latest data for 2013 shows that the number of visitors to Britain from China grew by ten per cent to hit 200,000 for the first time. For details visit http://www.visitbath.co.uk .
Nick Brooks-Sykes, chief executive of Bath Tourism Plus, and Bath MP Don Foster, with Chinese students from the University of Bath.
Source: The Bath Chronicle