How Visit Britain has succeeded marketing to China

Visit Britain are an organisation hoping for big success in the China market. The number of Chinese tourists coming to Britain each year makes China the 28th most important market. The number of Chinese visitors coming to the UK has doubled in the last five years. Tourism bosses in Britain are hoping present numbers will treble by 2020. In terms of visitor spending, Chinese tourists spend enough money to put them 19th out of all foreign visitors spending money in Britain (source: Visit Britain). Visit Britain has become a popular and well-known brand in China. We take a look at some of the key strategies they have used with their marketing to China in order to succeed.

Social media key to Visit Britain’s strategy

Getting involved in Chinese social media has allowed Visit Britain to become a recognised brand and ensure that the UK is often a talking point amongst Chinese users. Sina Weibo’s official statistics rate the Visit Britain account as the second most influential tourism account on the site. Clearly they understand social media marketing, as Britain was the most talked about travel destination in 2012, with 62.8million Chinese Weibo users discussing it (source: Simply Mandarin).

Linking social media to offline advertising has helped Visit Britain to generate lots of attention. They ran a billboard advertising campaign and asked their Weibo followers to post photos of the billboards to their profiles, adding their own caption or tagline. With the prizes being gifts of traditionally British souvenirs, the campaign got Chinese consumers to think about travelling to Britain and what the benefit for them would be. Posting these to their Weibo profiles meant Visit Britain was generating a lot of social recommendation (source: EBeijing).

Collaborating with domestic companies gives best opportunities when marketing to China

A big step forward for Visit Britain came in autumn 2013, when they struck a deal with China Unionpay – the most popular bank card for Chinese consumers. With most cash machines and around 50,000 businesses in the UK already accepting the card, the move further strengthened the relationship between Britain and Chinese tourists, making it easy for them to come to the UK and spend money. The deal allows Visit Britain to market the UK to Chinese bank card holders (source: Travel Weekly).

Encouraging British companies to create Chinese websites and products

In spring 2014 Visit Britain launched its Welcome China initiative, designed to make Britain a more welcoming and convenient destination for Chinese tourists. With the aim of attracting 650,000 visitors spending £1.1billion by 2020, the initiative will make it easy for Chinese tourists to identify key locations, such as hotels, attractions, and public transport. Signs in Mandarin and Cantonese will make it easier for tour operators and businesses to attract and serve Chinese customers (source: Visit Britain).

Travel providers have been quick to jump on board with the initiative. Both EasyJet and British Airways have Chinese websites, making it simple for Chinese tourists to compare flight deals and make bookings (sources: Gatwick Diamond Business, China daily).

(Image source: “Tourist Information Sign In England” |