Colin Fox, Marketing manager here at English Lakes Hotels will fly out to Hong Kong and also visit Guangzhou at the end of this month to join a group of UK tourism professionals promoting their businesses at Destination Britain China.
The song might tell us how many bicycles there are in Beijing, but not that there are more than 330,000 hotel rooms in Shanghai. This is only explained in part by the city’s global reputation for business and inbound overseas tourism. Domestic tourism is now starting to soar as the Chinese prosper and enjoy more leisure time.
This phenomenal growth has already begun to evolve into outbound travel, which is increasing by more than 22 per cent each year. In five years, experts predict that China will have become the largest single market of international travellers. While we’re already beginning to see green (bamboo?) shoots, how can the Lake District take advantage of this burgeoning sector of the market?
My visit to Changbai Mountain in northern China, on behalf of National Parks UK, the umbrella body of all British national parks, was to speak at an international ‘eco-festival’ on protected landscape management.
I talked about how we nurture our finest countryside, while also promoting national parks as some of Britain’s finest destinations. Listening to others, it was clear we have much to offer our potential guests: excellent accommodation; good public transport links and fine food – alongside a wonderful cultural heritage, spectacular landscapes and well maintained paths and trails. And if we don’t have the high street names that Chinese shoppers crave, we offer different and unique products and shopping experiences that are just as appealing.
While I found many had heard of the English Lake District, and all had heard of London, most knew about Manchester (and other football cities) too. To know that we’re so accessible to Manchester Airport, as well as having so much to offer, really made people sit up. My Mandarin versions of Cumbria Tourism, English Lakes Hotels and Windermere Lakes Cruises’ brochures were snapped up faster than you can say dim sum!
I found the Chinese people I met, alongside delegates from fourteen other countries, quite spellbound by our exceptional countryside. But they were also reassured that they would find high quality accommodation and a rich array of attractions, as well as events and opportunities for independent adventure. Let’s make the Lake District their destination of choice.
In the next article in this short blog series, Colin will speak to Helen Moriarty, Senior Development Officer for Groundwork North East & Cumbria who is also keen to explore how forging international partnerships in China is good for the Lake District and the surrounding area. Earlier this year, Helen conducted a lecture trip to Nanjing University in East China.