UK harnesses power of Alitrip to lure Chinese visitors

Karen Bradley, UK Secretary of State for Culture Media & Sport
Karen Bradley, UK Secretary of State for Culture Media & Sport

The UK is aiming to increase the number of Chinese visitors it attracts by partnering with Alitrip, the tourism arm of the Alibaba Group.

The tie-up between VisitBritain and Alitrip, as well as an airline partnership with the HNA Group, were announced at an event at Madame Tussauds Shanghai, during a visit to China led by the UK’s Government Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, Karen Bradley, and VisitBritain director Patricia Yates. A delegation of UK-based travel companies has also travelled to China.

VisitBritain’s partnership with Alitrip, which follows an initial memorandum of understanding signed in October 2016, will create a “National Tourism Pavilion” for the UK on Alitrip’s digital platform, showcasing the UK’s tourism products directly to millions of Chinese consumers and providing booking opportunities.

“Chinese tourists are showing more interest than ever before in visiting the UK,” said Alitrip’s senior vice president, Jerry Hu. “The UK National Tourism Pavilion on the Alitrip platform will reach more than 200 million Alitrip users through a variety of cultural and tourism resources, combined with innovative e-travel products and packages – introducing potential Chinese tourists to all the UK has to offer.”

HNA Group has applied for five new UK routes
HNA Group has applied for five new UK routes

And Chinese travellers will soon have more options to travel to the UK; HNA has announced plans to launch five new airline routes into the UK, with Hainan Airlines, Tianjin Airlines and Capital Airlines planning to fly non-stop to the country from Changsha, Chengdu, Qingdao, Shenzhen and Xi’an. This follows the signing of a new air service agreement between China and the UK.

“Hainan Airlines will make full use of the opportunities created by the air service agreement to further explore and develop the British market together with VisitBritain,” said Hainan Airlines’ president, Jianfeng Sun. “This is undoubtedly an important milestone in strategic cooperation for both sides and is the beginning of a brand new phase in the Sino-British tourism industry and airway development.”

According to VisitBritain data, Chinese visitors stay longer and travel more widely across the UK than other international visitors, at 15 nights compared to the average of eight, and more than half of this time spent outside London. They are also some of the highest spending visitors, spending on average GBP2,174 (US$2,770) per visit – more than three times the average visitor.

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