Chinese tourist spend on shopping in the UK has risen by almost a third, bolstered by the visitor numbers from China breaking the half-million mark for the first time.
According to annual visa figures from the UK China Visitor Alliance (UKCVA), Chinese visitors to the UK soared by over 150 per cent in the five years since 2012, from 211,000 visitors to 532,000 in 2017.
The UK also outperformed Schengen countries in the increase in visitor visas issued for the first time.
Figures released today by Global Blue also show that spending on shopping by Chinese visitors in the UK grew by 32 per cent in 2017, building on a 26 per cent rise in 2016.
This compares with just five per cent growth in the Eurozone in 2017 and a 21 per cent fall in 2016.
Research by New West End Company, based on Global Blue figures, also show that in 2016 the Chinese were the biggest spenders in London’s West End – accounting for 25 per cent of all tax-free shopping.
Visitors from Saudi Arabia, the next highest spenders, accounted for only seven per cent of sales.
To coincide with the release of the latest data, the UKCVA is now partnering with VisitBritain to launch a new Chinese Visitor Working Group – which will include representatives from business, the Home Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport – to explore a range of initiatives to attract more Chinese visitors.
The working group will also examine new ways to increase demand to visit the UK as well as make it easier to visit through improved visa application processes.
“The 2017 figures show great progress and are a fantastic example of business and government working together to boost the UK economy,” UKCVA chairman Brian Bickell said.
“We look forward to building on this partnership and success to welcome even more Chinese visitors to Britain in the coming years.”