“The Olympics should be for Britain what Usain Bolt is for athletics – something that grabs the attention of the whole world and refuses to let it go,”
So says the culture secretary Jeremy Hunt announcing a Government push to attract tourists, particularly from mainland China.
Some £8m will be targeted at the Chinese market, with the aim of trebling the number of Chinese visitors to the UK. Currently France and Germany prove more attractive to the burgeoning ranks of the Chinese middle class.
“Through this new campaign, I want us to treble the number of Chinese visitors we attract, getting to 500,000 by 2015,” said Hunt claiming that meeting the target could create 14,000 jobs and generate more than £500m a year in extra visitor spending.
The announcement is part of an increasing realisation of the opportunities in attracting more visitors from the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Last year we wondered how many attractions, services and companies were still caught in the old worldview, seeing China as source of affordable manufactured goods rather than a source of well-off visitors and consumers.
Hopefully the provision of information and a warm welcome in visitors’ languages is well under way. Back then to help the process on its way, WorldAccent produced a free download of four information signs in Chinese for shops and visitors’ attractions.
Some institutions have gone far beyond this, however. King’s College in Cambridge hosted famous Chinese poet Xu Zhimo as a research student in the 1920s. The college has commissioned Royal Crown Derby to produce a special bone china plate decorated with quotes from Xu Zhimo’s poem ‘Saying Good-bye to Cambridge Again’. This Chinese language limited edition sells for £95 a time.