Boost For Scottish Tourism As Chinese Flash Spending Power

Published by The Herald

IT is one of the fastest areas of growth for Scotland’s tourism industry and is worth millions of pounds every year.

Now the falling pound and an upswing in Chinese spending power is set to provide a much-needed boost for the country.

China’s buoyant economy and a new wanderlust spirit to explore the world and a fall in the value of sterling are said to be providing perfect conditions for a further tourism boom.

One Edinburgh based tour company is reporting a massive 70 per cent leap in Chinese visitors this summer compared to last. Tourists from China tend to travel from August to October.

According to analysts from mobile payments platform JGOO, the shifting financial landscape could see Chinese visitors’ spending power soar by a staggering 22% if sterling hits parity against the US dollar and the yuan holds its value.

Translated into spending here, it could boost the average spend during a UK holiday by a Chinese visitor by £375, to £2053.  Although 48% of Chinese tourists’ money is spent in London, Scotland is said to take a 6.7% share of overall spending.

The unexpected benefit of a falling pound comes in the wake of an almost six-fold increase in Chinese visitors to Scotland since 2009.  According to the International Passenger Survey, 56,679 Chinese visitors toured Scotland last year, spending a total of £47.7 million.

But it is thought those figures may be conservative, with Edinburgh Castle reporting 173,000 visitors from China between March 2017 and April 2018.

Figures for this year are expected to show a further jump reflecting the launch of direct flights between Edinburgh and Beijing last summer, while VisitBritain has predicted Chinese visitors to the UK are expected to soar by almost 50% over the next five years.

According to Richard Morecroft, Director and Co-Founder of JGOO, which provides Western retailers access to the Chinese market through WeChat Pay and Alipay, a sliding pound sparked by Brexit fears could spark extra tourists and lead to a wave of fresh trade as Chinese customers seek to spend high with UK retailers.

“If (sterling) does fall, this will no doubt have a negative impact on many parts of the UK economy. Such a fall is likely to be a huge boost for UK retailers when selling their goods to tourists, to those buying remotely from China and for the country’s tourism industry as a whole”.

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh-based tour firm Rabbies said: “We’ve seen an over 70% increase year on year in the number of Chinese passengers across all of our tours in the UK.

“The most visited locations tend to go in line with the market demand, for Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye. But we have also seen an increasing number on our St Andrews and Fife tour and our tours out of Inverness have been popular.”

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