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Spend by Chinese visitors to the UK hits record level

With David Cameron announcing the introduction of longer tourist visas for Chinese visitors to the UK, data from Visa Europe shows that spend by Chinese visitors hit a record level in the summer.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Spend by Chinese visitors to the UK hits record level

The government is extending the standard visitor visas from six months to two years with multiple entry and plans to introduce a new 10 year multiple entry visit visa for the same price.

Analysis of spending by Visa shows that spending by Chinese Visa cardholders increased by 44.5% in the UK in July to outstrip tourist spending by visitors from France and Australia. This made visitors from China the second highest spending tourists in the UK, behind only those coming to the UK from the USA.

Visa said the growth in Chinese spending was driven primarily by dining out, trips to supermarkets and shopping on the high street. Retail therapy remained the top holiday activity, with £20 million spent on clothing, at department stores and on the high street in July. This made up of 40% of Chinese overall holiday spend in the UK.

However, data from Visa Europe shows that the UK still lagged behind the top five European destinations for Chinese tourists.

Annual spending growth by Chinese visitors on Visa cards in July 2015

Spain: 75%

Switzerland: 66%

Italy: 63%

France: 61%

Germany: 57%

Visa said this may shift in the coming months as more Chinese tourists take advantage of the UK’s previously announced new visa scheme. Introduced on 1 July, the scheme allows Chinese visitors to submit the same application to both the UK and the European authorities at the same time. Chinese visitors would have previously had to submit a separate application to the UK, which is outside the European Schengen free-travel area.

Kevin Jenkins, UK & Ireland managing director Visa Europe said: “China is one of the fastest growing sources of tourism income for the UK and it looks set to become an important driver of growth for the sector. Spending on cards has seen a significant boost as Chinese tourists travel to the UK, confident in the use of plastic overseas.

“The simpler twin visa system for Chinese nationals already looks to have given a big summer boost to the UK’s retail and tourism industries. Going forward it will be interesting to see whether our data indicates a short-term boost or a genuine shift in Chinese tourism to the UK.

“With shopping a top attraction for Chinese travellers, UK retailers are likely to consider additional ways to appeal specifically to this audience. Pre-travel marketing, multi-lingual staff and new product lines in store may be three things we see more of.”

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