London welcoming growing number of Chinese visitors

Survey results published today show that London’s tourism industry is increasingly adapting to the growing number of Chinese visitors to the capital which have doubled in the past three years.

London & Partners questioned 70 of the capital’s top restaurants, hotels, shops and tourist attractions for the survey, which revealed that more than a third of businesses now employ Mandarin speakers amongst their staff to cater for the growth in Chinese customers.

Businesses are also providing an increasing amount of information in Mandarin for Chinese tourists - in particular brochures, menus or other literature.

Improved travel links, with four Chinese cities now flying to London, have contributed to the increase in visitors in the last 12 months. Businesses in the capital believe that Chinese customers will be important to the growth of their enterprises over the next five years.

Feedback from the survey also showed that there is also a significant willingness across the board to continue to adapt products or services to suit the requirements of Chinese customers.

Director of Consumer Marketing and Digital Channels at London & Partners, Julie Chappell said: “This is great news for London and its Chinese visitors. London is a welcoming city and an accessible destination for mandarin speakers. We already know that more languages are spoken here than in any other capital city in the world but it is good to hear that so many businesses are investing in Mandarin language services. We want to make sure that all overseas visitors have a very positive and enjoyable experience during their time in London.”

London has communities from 33 nations with 300 languages spoken – Cantonese and Mandarin are among the most common. In 2012, London welcomed 104,000 Chinese visitors, up more than a third from the previous year and double the number since 2009.

Attracted by big brand names in London’s Luxury Quarter, Chinese visitors spent an average of £1300 each in London last year which is more than any other nationality. In total, Chinese visitors to the capital spent £140 million in 2012 – an increase of 150% on the 2009 spend figure.

A record 15.5 million people visited London from overseas last year, spending more than £10 billion.  

Notes to Editors

Source for visitor number and spend statistics: Office for National Statistics, International Passenger Survey, Visit Britain.

Examples of how tourist attractions in particular have adapted to the increase in Chinese visitors to London: 

Three of the world’s five most-visited museum and galleries are in London - British Museum, National Gallery and Tate Modern  (Official Visitor Statistics, not including Palace museum). They offer Chinese floor plans, guide books and audio guides – many of them brand new for 2013.

The National Gallery has designed a specialised Zodiac trail to engage Chinese visitors – picking out 12 masterpieces to explore similarities and differences in animal symbolism across the world’s great cultural traditions.

St Paul’s Cathedral offers an iPod Touch to every Chinese visitor, loaded with a Mandarin multimedia guide.

The world-renowned Blue Badge Guide organisation offers 6 Cantonese speakers and 14 Mandarin speakers, ready to design a bespoke tour.