Chinese visits to the UK hit record high

Chinese tourists in London Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There were 214,000 visits made from China to the UK from January to September last year

A growing number of Chinese tourists helped push visits to the UK from China up to record levels in the first nine months of 2015, VisitBritain has said.

The tourism body said there were 214,000 visits from China in January-September last year, up 37% from 157,000 in the same period of 2014.

Visitors spent £435m, an average of £2,032 per visit, up 4% on the year before, the organisation said.

The culture secretary said it was "great news" for the UK economy.

"We are making it even easier for Chinese tourists to come and enjoy the best of Britain and our recently launched two-year visa scheme will encourage even more to visit," John Whittingdale said.

The new two-year visa system for Chinese nationals visiting the UK was launched last month.

'Must-go destination'

VisitBritain director Patricia Yates said: "China is the world's largest outbound market and a huge tourism opportunity for Britain."

She said Chinese New Year, on 8 February, was traditionally one of the busiest travel times for Chinese tourists.

"We want Britain to be at the top of their list as a must-go now destination," she said.

VisitBritain's latest figures from the International Passenger Survey also showed 2.6 million visits were made from the US during the first nine months of 2015 - up 7% on the year to levels not seen since 2007.

From January to September, there were also 2.6 million visits made from Germany, 3.2 million from France, 569,000 from Canada, 273,000 from the United Arab Emirates and 116,000 from Saudi Arabia.

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