York hopes to welcome Chinese visitors

York city centre
York city centre
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One of the region’s major tourist destinations has said it has its sights firmly set on China as it bids to increase visitors from the key market.

With China estimated to be York’s tenth largest market up from 19th place a decade ago efforts are underway to encourage more Chinese citizens to visit the historic city and the region with tourism bosses producing tailor-made visitor guides and information in simplified Mandarin.

Tourism is Yorkshire’s third biggest sector and employs over 250,000 people and is worth in excess of £7bn.

Now York has its sights firmly set on Chinese visitors and tour operators planning their travel itineraries for 2015 and beyond and this will be one of the key messages at today’s Visit York Tourism Insights conference being held at York racecourse.

A line-up of expert tourism speakers will be welcomed by Chairman of Visit York, Jane Lady Gibson at the event which will deliver the latest news on international tourism trends, emerging markets, the changing demographics of the UK tourism market and how York and Yorkshire businesses can begin to get ready for the Chinese market.

The event is taking place as Visit York launches a brand new marketing drive positioning York as a must-see destination for tour operators across China. Kate McMullen, Head of Visit York, said: “It’s timely for the theme of our tourism conference to focus on emerging markets and in particular to have an emphasis on China.

“This market is the fastest growing and its crucial we plan ahead now and do all we can to get ready to welcome Chinese visitors to York and Yorkshire in the future.”

This summer Yorkshire hosted the Tour de France’s Grand Départ showcasing the region around the world.

Figures released earlier this year by VisitBritain show that last summer the number of tourists coming to Yorkshire increased by 38 per cent to 168,000 - a record high for visitors to the region during July, August and September.

Tourists from Australia were the nationality most likely to explore the region’s historic cities such as York as well as the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.

Michelle Brown, Visit York marketing manager, will arrive at today’s conference, fresh from a tourism trade mission to sell York face to face to over ninety influential Chinese tour operators.

“We see the importance of sowing the seeds for the inbound Chinese market and, now that visa issues are starting to be tackled, we want to ensure York is high on the agenda for tour operators planning their 2015/16 programmes.’

China is estimated to be York’s 10th largest overseas tourism market – up from 19th place 10 years ago and key announcements being made at the conference includes:

*30,000 York Visitor Guides for Chinese visitors have been produced, copies of which have been distributed via five incoming major airlines, VIP airport lounges at London Heathrow, Stansted and Manchester, and also at hotels in London, Manchester, Leeds and York.

*A brand new promotional video in Chinese went live this week, promoted through the VisitBritainTV platform, and which has already achieved over 250,000 views.

Tourism leaders will also hear about a number of other issues including the latest news on emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia and India and the changing demographics of the UK visitor market, Closer to home, Tom Pearcy, owner of the York Maze, will speak about his business.