A group of ten Lake District businesses which have been working together to attract more Chinese visitors is seeking to extend its membership across Cumbria.
The English Lake District China Forum is looking to add at least another five Cumbrian businesses to its membership. It wants to include more organisations from across the Lake District National Park and the county as a whole to achieve greater geographical balance and representation.
The number of Chinese visitors to the UK is expected to treble by 2020. The aim of the forum is to use collective tourism industry expertise to raise awareness of the English Lake District and Cumbria and how it can best serve the Chinese market, including joint work to offer more creative itineraries for Chinese travellers.
Through working with the forum, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership has, over the last two years, invested £30,000 in total with Marketing Manchester to enable the Lake District to become a ‘Destination Partner’ in recent promotional campaigns targeted at China.
Since 2015, the forum has organised events in the UK and China to maintain direct contact and build relationships with influential Chinese market tour operators and decision-makers. This has included trade missions to cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Activities to date include producing a range of translated marketing materials, some short films with drone footage showing off the stunning scenery, the establishment of Chinese social media accounts such as Weibo, and a series of articles in targeted publications. A key objective is to create itineraries that will attract and disperse visitors more widely.
“The number of Chinese visitors to the Lake District continues to rise,” explains English Lake District China Forum chair Jennifer Cormack from Windermere Lake Cruises. “Our work is aimed specifically at enhancing the exposure of the Lake District and now other areas of Cumbria in Chinese tourism markets.
“We have had more of a focus on Windermere and surrounding areas since inception, so we would really like to see greater representation from more areas to underline the Lake District National Park’s importance as a must-visit destination for Chinese tourists to the UK.”
The English Lake District China Forum’s marketing director, Colin Fox, from English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues, adds: “The success we’ve had in elevating the English Lake District’s exposure in China and within the UK’s Chinese community since we all started working together has encouraged us to seek a wider membership base.
“Since 2015, our own Lake District venues have hosted double the number of Chinese guests, so we know that we are increasing revenue year on year from Chinese visitors.
“The Chinese tourism market is a huge opportunity, and we would like to see more businesses involved from all over the region to strengthen our collective marketing efforts and create a bigger, more influential organisation which focuses strongly on China’s cultural and tourism needs so we can compete with any other destination in the UK and beyond.”
The forum’s partnership with Marketing Manchester has supported a China marketing campaign and roadshow work with Hainan Airlines. This included the airline’s inaugural flight arrival into Manchester Airport, ensuring the Lake District has become known as one of the best areas to visit for inbound travellers.
Director of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership Graham Haywood says: “China is an important and growing market for the Cumbrian visitor economy, and increasing the number of relatively high-spending international visitors is a priority in our Rural and Visitor Economy growth plan.
“The work of the Lake District China Forum is proving a success, with members reporting revenue increases as a result of more Chinese visitors. We hope other businesses in Cumbria will see the benefits and get involved so we can then see the promotion of a wider range of exciting Cumbrian itineraries for Chinese visitors.”
There are three levels of membership and Cumbrian businesses will be able to advertise via the forum’s Chinese social media channels for a relatively small financial outlay. Any organisation keen to join the English Lake District China Forum or to find out more about membership opportunities should contact [email protected]
For further information about Cumbria LEP, visit www.cumbrialep.co.uk