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UK lift Chinese visa restrictions further

With the Chinese Premier Li in London this week for talks there has been an announcement of the further relaxation of the visa restrictions on Chinese visiting the UK. This suggests major retailers, especially the big brands, will benefit hugely.
The UK forecast is that Chinese visitors will account for £1b of sales by 2017, an increase of 84% on 2013.
What is interesting to consider though is the Chinese propensity to travel. If we look at the US, the old adage is that 80% of Americans don’t have a passport despite being the largest economy in the world and there being very few if any restrictions. The official statistic is that 64% of Americans have never left the country.
This has something to do with geography and holiday entitlement but more to do with a sense that their own country has so much to offer.
In China, the travel bug does seem to have bitten. In 2013, 97 million Chinese travelled abroad compared to just 29 million in 2004. It will not only be tourists who come to the UK but, if the Air China flights I get are anything to go by, then business people too will be looking at UK opportunities. In the very Chinese way, they will come to look as tourists first then come to buy as businesses second, or third or fourth!
So what might be the implications of greater Chinese tourism? Apart from the clear financial benefits to the UK and wider European economy, one can’t help thinking it might actually make China an ever more inclusive part of the wider world.
For many years China was closed and misunderstood. It is now open and contributing in a way that is consistent with its size and financial muscle.
Another example of China helping set the agenda – no longer following it.