York looks to boost Far East Tourism

Castle Howard is one of many popular attractions in the York region.

York looks to boost Far East Tourism

A new sales mission in China is expected to pay dividends for York and boost visits from the country throughout 2018 and into the future.

Marketing manager for Visit York, Michelle Brown, has just landed back in the UK after attending VisitBritain’s China sales mission in Guangzhou. 

The three-day event last week was attended by around eighty tour operators from across China, all looking for travel ideas to sell to their customers and include in their travel brochures.

Michelle, Visit York’s expert on tourism marketing in China, said: “Our aim is to grow the number of tour operators featuring York in their holiday brochures. 

“We know Chinese visitors love our history, heritage and especially our afternoon teas and shopping. 

“They even love to try our fish and chips!  After forty one-to-one appointments with some of China’s most high-profile travel companies I’m confident York will see the benefits of this mission next year and in 2019.”

Attendance at the event is part of Visit York’s continued commitment to promoting the city in China and adds to a host of marketing activity including the release this year of a fourth edition of York’s Visitor Guide in simplified Mandarin. 

35,000 copies of the guide have been distributed via five inbound airlines from China, at VIP airport arrival lounges at London and Stansted as well as visa application offices in Beijing and Shanghai.

A York video in Chinese, originally launched in 2014, has now generated over half a million online views and social media channels on Weibo and WeChat now have over 30,000 followers. 

According to Visit York the new direct route from Manchester airport to Beijing with Hainan Airlines provides a perfect opportunity to promote York to Chinese visitors keen to explore more of the UK. 

Visit York aims to entice Chinese visitors here with a mix of high end shopping at venues such as Pandora, Fenwick and York Designer Outlet, afternoon tea at venues such as the Grand Hotel and Spa and the National Railway Museum’s Countess of York and world-class visitor attractions, such as York Minster, York’s Chocolate Story and JORVIK. 

Michelle added: “The tour operators were especially interested in the Shop That Must Not Be Named on Shambles and in Castle Howard. 

“We’ve already had a key enquiry from Chengdu for example to contract bedrooms for the Grand Hotel and Spa and from one of the biggest Chinese tour operators, Caissa, to feature the Jorvik Viking Festival in their holiday brochures. 

“Interestingly there’s no Chinese word for Viking so it is referred to as the York Pirate Festival!”

VisitBritain Director, Patricia Yates added: “China is the most valuable outbound tourism market in the world and a huge opportunity for Britain. 

“This event gives York and other UK travel suppliers the chance to get their tourism products and services in front of top buyers from China and to forge valuable business connections.”

Castle Howard and Selby Abbey continue to be of keen interest to Chinese visitors since the wedding of Taiwanese pop star and actor, Jay Chou, which took place in January 2015. 

Ever since this news broke on social media, interest in York and Yorkshire has increased in China, with hundreds of Chinese visitors posting photos of themselves online in front of Castle Howard. 

Attendance at the sales mission in Guangzhou is just one element of Make It York’s ongoing marketing campaign, under its tourism brand Visit York, to make the city a must-see destination for the rapidly growing Chinese tourism market. 

Marketing is being supported by dedicated PR and this month York will feature in China’s largest English language newspaper, the China UK Daily, with a circulation of 200,000.