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Scotland launches WeChat app to better support Chinese visitors

By Wang Mingjie | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-02-13 01:27

Chinese tourists visit Edinburgh Castle. [Photo by Wang Mingjie/China Daily]

A new app targeting millions of Chinese social media users has been launched by VisitScotland, in a major push to promote the nation as a key destination for travellers.

The mini-app, unveiled during the Chinese New Year on Feb 5, is housed under VisitScotland's account, Lvxing Scotland (Travel Scotland), on Chinese social media platform WeChat, which has 1 billion monthly active users.

The unveiling is part of a larger focus on China, now a priority market for the organization, which has an estimated international tourism expenditure of $257.7 billion.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: "We have recognized for some time the tourism potential of China and it is now considered a priority market by VisitScotland. Scotland currently accounts for almost a fifth of all Chinese visitors to the UK and with enhanced air connectivity there is a real opportunity to grow that market further."

"The mini-app will give visitors practical information at their fingertips on the many tourism businesses in Scotland that are catering for the Chinese market, making it even easier for them to plan their first or even next visit to our shores.

"It further complements the ongoing work we are doing in building relationships between our Scottish partners and Chinese tour operators to support the creation of more products to suit this important market," Roughead added.

Tourists take photos outside the Blair Athol Distillery, one of the oldest of its kind in Scotland, which dates to 1798. CHINA DAILY

Since 2011, there has been a 316 percent increase in visitor numbers from China to Scotland with VisitBritain — the tourism body for the UK predicting Chinese visitor numbers across the whole of the UK will rise by almost half during the next five years.

Chinese visitors spent more than 44 million pounds ($55.7 million) in 2017 and Chinese tourist revenue in Scotland has risen by almost 350 percent in a decade, according to VisitScotland.

The mini app divides Scotland into four regions and allows users to browse an initial 200 Scottish businesses — activities, attractions, food and drink, and shopping — which have tailored their products to engage with the Chinese visitor market, for example, by having Mandarin translations or Mandarin speaking staff. The app will allow for additional businesses to be added.

Last year saw increased engagement with the Chinese market in Scotland, including the first ever direct flight from China to Scotland, the largest contingent of Chinese buyers attending Scotland's premier B2B travel trade event, VisitScotland Expo, and the launch of social media channels in China by VisitScotland.

VisitScotland hosted its biggest Chinese travel trade mission to date in November last year. Sixteen businesses joined the national tourism body on the business development mission in Guangzhou, Beijing and Xi'an. The Chinese business development mission gave Scottish suppliers the opportunity to engage with Chinese buyers face-to-face to help them to shape future products for the Chinese market.

"Show your solidarity and support in the face of the recent act of vandalism against the grave of Karl Marx by joining us for our annual oration at the grave site," library staff wrote on social media.

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