Visit Britain, which is in charge of promoting the UK as a tourist destination to overseas visitors, is to partner with a China-based airline in order to attract more Chinese tourists.
The public body, which is funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, has published a £6m contract to find a partner with “strong networks” across Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai.
“The partner should be an established brand in China with a solid reputation and substantial market share of air travel to Britain,” the tender, which was published by public contract data company Tussell, read. Chinese carriers which already fly direct from China to Britain include China Southern, Air China and China Eastern.
The latest figures from Visit Britain showed that the number of Chinese visitors coming to the UK jumped 29pc in 2017 compared to 2016, reaching a record 337,000 visitors. They also spent 35pc more than in the previous year, at £694m.
The contract with the airline would last for two-and-a-half years and would involve the company promoting Britain to its Chinese customers. Major events, such as the recent royal wedding, and opportunities for shopping and cultural events have helped to attract people to the UK, particularly the larger cities.
Visit Britain has ramped up its efforts to attract foreign visitors from different places in recent years, and organises sales missions to China for UK travel operators.
It recently awarded a £3m contract to Ctrip, the Chinese travel firm that owns Skyscanner, to run a three-year marketing campaign relating to Chinese tourism to the UK.