Figures from VisitBritain’s International Passenger Survey showed a total of 214,000 visits from china took place between January and September 2015, beating the number of visits for all of 2014. Spend was also up 4% over the same period to £435m.
The new visitor visa pilot scheme for Chinese nationals introduced earlier this month by the government is expected to boost the number of visits from Chinese tourists even further.
VisitBritain said that Chinese visitors are already some of the UK’s highest spenders, spending on average £2,688 a head. The trade body has ambitions to double spend from Chinese visitors to £1bn by 2020.
Meanwhile, Britain could expect another boost from Chinese tourists in the coming months, with the Chinese New Year on 8 February approaching – one of the prime time of travel for Chinese visitors.
Patricia Yates, director of VisitBritain, said: “China is the world’s largest outbound market and a huge tourism opportunity for Britain. Chinese New Year is traditionally one of the busiest travel times for Chinese travellers and we want Britain to be at the top of their list as a must-go now destination.”
The figures also showed strong growth from the USA in 2015, the UK’s most valuable market, with visits up 7% during the first nine months of the year to 2.6 million – the best figures since 2007.
Growth was also seen in visits from Germany, up 1% to 2.6 million from January to September last year, while the number of visits from France, the UK’s largest market by volume, was on par with 2014’s record result so far at 3.2 million.
Spending by visitors from France was up 9% to £1.2bn, seeing it overtake Germany as the UK’s second largest market by value to date.