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Destinations Asia

Record number of Chinese shoppers expected in London, despite visa hurdles

Feb 08, 2013 8:46 am

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As China’s middle class begins to travel more the image of the Chinese traveler will evolve to include more than just shopping. But until then, destinations will do what they can to get the luxury shopping spend.

— Jason Clampet

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Spending across London’s shops and tourist attractions by Chinese shoppers is set to reach a new record next week.

China’s biggest holiday period — Golden Week and Chinese New Year — next week is expected to bring record numbers of high spenders to London’s luxury shops and hotels.

New data from tax-free shopping business Global Blue found Chinese shoppers visiting the UK now spend more than 90% of their budget  in London. The amount spent by Chinese visitors has jumped by 31% in the last year, and the  average visitor from China now spends £1,164 in every transaction.

A further spike from the country is expected after amendments to the visa system in the UK late last year. The UK China Visa Alliance (UKCVA) predicts the changes will give the UK economy a £1.2 billion boost.

Global Blue vice president Richard Brown said: “Retailers are bracing themselves for a significant uplift in Chinese shoppers. Luxury brands are set to benefit the most, with high net worth Chinese shoppers favouring handbags, jewellery and watches.”

The Chinese account for almost 20% of non-EU international spending in the UK, and the average trip lasts about 13 nights. But there are concerns the UK is still losing out to Paris, Rome and other European cities because of easier visa processes.

Patricia Yates, a director of VisitBritain, said: “China is a key growth market for international tourism and a market in which Britain needs to compete effectively. Improvements in the visa process support our ambition to attract 40 million visitors a year by 2020.”

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