Birmingham Airport and Marketing Birmingham have become two of the first 100 companies across the UK to be awarded a new Chartermark declaring they are fit to welcome Chinese visitors.
The GREAT China Welcome Charter is a new initiative from VisitBritain to make Britain the destination of choice for the rapidly-growing Chinese market. Visitors from China have doubled in the last five years and tourism bosses hope they will treble again by 2020.
The new Charter will help Chinese visitors easily identify hotels, attractions, retailers and tour operators that are making themselves ‘China-ready’ by providing information in Chinese and adapting their products for the market.
This comes following the recent announcement by Birmingham Airport that it will become the UK’s first airport outside of London to launch direct flights from China, and the first UK airport to launch charter services from July 2014. The joint initiative between Birmingham Airport, China Southern Airlines, Caissa Travel Management Co Ltd and Birmingham China specialist agency, United Travel, demonstrates the enormous demand for more flights between the two countries.
Birmingham Airport qualified as one of the first Charter members because it is making a number of investments to give Chinese visitors a warm welcome and a stress free journey through the terminal. This includes Chinese terminal signage, staff cultural awareness training, Mandarin speaking front of house staff, specific web-pages translated into Mandarin, and a dedicated VAT refund facility for passengers to use before jetting back home.
Jo Lloyd, the Airport’s Marketing Director, said: “We are experiencing strong interest from China and are looking forward to launching direct charter flights between Birmingham and Beijing in July, welcoming hundreds of Chinese tourists to the Midlands region, which is home to world famous attractions such as Shakespeare’s Birthplace, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and Warwick Castle.
“Being a Charter member will enable us, and our partners, to be recognised for the work that we are doing to welcome Chinese visitors and we are proud to be a founding member.”
Marketing Birmingham, which operates the city’s leisure tourism programme Visit Birmingham, is also among the first 100 organisations to be awarded the new Chartermark. The strategic marketing partnership has attended recent VisitBritain trade missions to China and other countries in the Far East, meeting with travel agents and developing a product to bring more Chinese visitors to the city.
A range of online developments are being made to the city’s official visitor website visitbirmingham.com, including dynamic translations of the whole site, along with the addition of an enhanced travel trade web portal with Chinese sales tools, both in Mandarin and Cantonese. Working with trade association UKinbound, there will also be an increased focus on Chinese social media and travel trade communication.
Neil Rami, Chief Executive of Marketing Birmingham, said: "We are actively promoting Birmingham both to Chinese travel agents and inward investors – positioning the area as a gateway to the country. The Birmingham area is being shown as a must-visit UK destination and there is particular interest from China in our strong retail and heritage offer.
"We are committed to working with regional partners, Birmingham Airport and VisitBritain to further realise China’s potential. We have engaged heavily with the Chinese travel trade and, over the coming year, plan to build on increasing awareness of the Birmingham region by connecting with a multimedia savvy Chinese audience through targeted digital and social media campaigns."
Sandie Dawe, Chief Executive of VisitBritain, added: “There is strong evidence that businesses who go the extra mile in catering for certain nationalities quickly reap the benefits. Birmingham Airport and Marketing Birmingham are great examples of organisations, which have been quick to recognise the massive potential of the Chinese market and invested accordingly. We’re delighted to be able to count them among our first 100 members and hope that many more British tourism and hospitality businesses will follow their example.”
For more information about the Charter please see www.greatchinawelcome.com