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Norwich group holiday firm secures a slice of lucrative Chinese tourist market

A delegate of 29 Chinese tourists being taken out on the Broads by Visit Britain during English Tourism Week. It is part of a drive to encourage more Chinese tourists to the UK. .

Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A delegate of 29 Chinese tourists being taken out on the Broads by Visit Britain during English Tourism Week. It is part of a drive to encourage more Chinese tourists to the UK. . Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Archant Norfolk 2016

A local group holiday firm is cashing in on a slice of the increasingly lucrative Chinese tourist market, which generated £586m nationally last year.

A delegate of 29 Chinese tourists being taken out on the Broads by Visit Britain during English Tourism Week. It is part of a drive to encourage more Chinese tourists to the UK. .

Picture: MARK BULLIMOREA delegate of 29 Chinese tourists being taken out on the Broads by Visit Britain during English Tourism Week. It is part of a drive to encourage more Chinese tourists to the UK. . Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Just for Groups, which is based in Norwich, welcomed its first cohort of Chinese visitors for a seven day tour of the UK earlier this year and is in talks to secure more trips during 2017 and 2018.

Tourism chiefs around the country have identified China as an area for growth, with spending by visitors from the east Asian country jumping 18pc last year - putting it into Britain’s top 10 most valuable inbound markets for the first time.

Harold Burke, sales director at the business, said that Chinese visitors generally stayed longer and travelled more widely across the country, spending about £2,174 - more than three times than that of the average visitor.

He said: “As we move into 2017 and 2018, and life outside the European Union, links with markets such as China and the US will become increasingly important.”

Flight bookings from China to the UK from November to January are up 17pc on the same period last year, while the number of inbound visits during 2015 rose to a record-breaking 270,000 - up 46pc on the year before.

It is a campaign which has been bolstered by high-profile politician visits - last year Chinese president Xi Jinping and former prime minister David Cameron visited a Buckinghamshire pub, while culture secretary Karen Bradley travelled to Shanghai earlier this month.

Mr Burke said: “All these high-level delegations, partnerships and announcements mean that there will be many more flights from China to the UK, bringing thousands more Chinese tourists to our country.

“They want to visit our world-class museums, heritage sites and beautiful countryside – and spend money in our shops.”

In March, Visit Britain - which has said it hopes to double the spend by Chinese visitors to £1bn by 2020 - took 29 delegates out on the Broads and the Bure Valley Railway as part of a visit to showcase the best of Britain.

At the time, the Broads Authority said they intended to install signs in Mandarin.

More air links have been set up, including at Manchester Airport, which promotes itself in Mandarin on Chinese social media.

Just for Group’s progress into the market comes as part of a wider push by the firm to expand into markets further afield.

Until recently, it had dealt with solely domestic groups for 30 years.

• Do you have a tourism story we should be writing about? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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