London tops Chinese tourists' to-do list of UK destinations and it's down to the royals and Harry Potter, report finds

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Chinese tourists visit London for the royals and Harry Potter, and the capital tops their list of favourite destinations in Britain, a new report suggests.

More than 250,000 holidaymakers from China spent more than half a billion pounds in the UK last year.

The Visit Britain report said Chinese tourists rate Britain highly for its heritage and contemporary culture, a focus on museums and films. 

Buckingham Palace tops the list, with 35 per cent of those surveyed saying it was on their to-do-list.

Attractions that offer a bird’s eye view of the capital, such as the Shard and the London Eye, also featured on the list.

Tourism: Chinese holidaymakers visit the British Museum (Getty Images)

The report read: “They are mostly interested in symbolic elements: the Royal Family, Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter and Downton Abbey.

“The Chinese outbound market is booming: visits abroad more than doubled in five years, from about 41 million overnight stays in 2011 to 85 million in 2016. By 2020, it is forecast to exceed 110 million trips overseas.”

The analysis also looks at sought-after activities among the Chinese – the most valuable market for international tourism expenditure.

Behind Buckingham Palace, the data showed that Chatworth House in the Peak District and Edinburgh Castle were second and third on the to-do-list. 

Some 31 per cent said the lavish Derbyshire stately home was on their list of things to do, with 23 per cent saying the same for the Scottish city’s castle.

Other figures revealed in the report by the UK tourism agency show London was the most popular destination for Chinese tourists, with an annual average of 144,000 between 2004 and 2016, compared with 238,000 in Scotland and 35,000 in Edinburgh.

This compares to an annual average of 23,000 visiting Manchester and 14,000 heading to Cambridge.

Less than one in 10 said they would have fish and chips at the seaside, despite more Chinese people developing the so-called “Western palate”, the report said.

It added: “[They] might appreciate wine, whisky and other western spirits, cheese, dairy products, dessert etc. However, many Chinese tourists will recourse to familiar Chinese food once in a while, if not often.”


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