Chinese Tourists Flock to London

Chinese tourism to the UK across the board is ballooning.Chinese tourism to the UK across the board is ballooning.

A weeklong national holiday in China is providing a much-needed boost for the entertainment and retail industry in London, with Chinese tourists taking advantage of the dip in exchange rates.

China’s National Day Golden Week holiday is arguably one of the biggest events in the consumer calendar. Now halfway through its duration, the spending power of 1.4 billion Chinese has been unleashed on the world’s entertainment and tourism industries, CNBC reported.

London, in which the Brexit-weakened pound has proved a boon for international visitors looking for a better deal, has already been enjoying a bumper week. The UK’s capital is expected to see up to 300,000 more Chinese visitors this week. This is a marked increase on the 54,000 Chinese visitors to the UK in the first quarter of 2017, a figure that was already up 27% year-on-year.

According to the New West End Company, citing figures from retail research firm Global Blue, international spending in London’s West End in July 2017 had risen by 20% year-on-year. Chinese shoppers spent the most, shelling out an average of £1,478 ($1,946) at each transaction. The number of visitors specifically from the Middle Kingdom had also grown 31% year-on-year in July.

“Demand is sure to continue throughout Golden Week,” Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of the New West End Company, a body representing the area, said in a statement Friday.

Chinese tourism to the UK across the board is ballooning. According to VisitBritain, the UK’s official tourism board, citing data from ForwardKeys, flight bookings from China to the UK for Sept.-Nov. are up 10% year-on-year.

VisitBritain added in its statement that it would be sending a “large scale travel trade mission” to China in November. Destination Britain China would involve the meeting of 65 U.K. tourism companies with China’s “top travel agents” in Guangzhou.

But while international spending in London’s tourist hotspots is on the up, some dark clouds loom on the horizon. Sterling, despite recovering some losses since its initial plummet following the UK’s vote to exit the European Union, is still down some 12% since before the June 2016 referendum.

“Many retailers have concerns about domestic consumer confidence and rising costs, as we await firm plans for our exit from the European Union,” Tyrrell warned in his statement.

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