Bristol and Bath must ensure they are ‘China Friendly’ in order to attract their fair share of fast increasing UK visitor numbers.
That’s according to the Bristol and West of England China Bureau – which has been working closely with Destination Bristol over the past 15 months to further develop the region’s presence on Chinese Social Media channels.
Bureau chief executive Dianne Francombe said: “The latest bulletin from VisitBritain highlights the increasing availability of direct flights from China to London – and we need to ensure we get our fair share of visitors by persuading people to take time out to visit Bristol and Bath.
“We have been working with John Hirst at Destination Bristol to develop a presence for Bristol and Bath on Chinese Social Media to build a brand name.
“We must ensure we’re putting the best that the West Country offers onto the Chinese and Asian Social Media platforms.”
Dianne Francombe explained: “This should include historical attractions such as the ss Great Britain, Berkeley Castle and The Roman Baths along with modern attractions such as the Sherlock trail – showing the film locations used in the TV series. The Balloon Fiesta is also proving very popular amongst our Chinese Visitors.”
The project aims to provide information on Bristol and Bath attractions in Chinese on Baidu (the equivalent of Wikipedia) and Weibo (Chinese Twitter).
“Popular tweets attract thousands of hits instantly with video material being the most popular. We believe city attractions should support the VisitBristol Chinese Weibo project, in order to showcase the best we can offer to Chinese people thinking of travelling to the UK.”
Chinese visitors have identified a number of practical ways in which Bristol and Bath could become more ‘China Friendly’.
Chunfang Zeng, an apprentice at Double Tree by Hilton, Bristol, has been giving VisitBristol organisers an inside track on what Chinese visitors are looking for – and what areas both cities could do better.
He said: “Wherever I go in Bristol there are always things to do and to see. But Chinese visitors would appreciate a package full of information that would help them to get around – preferably in Chinese.
“Bristol should consider linking up with Bath to produce something like a London pass to make it easier – and cheaper – to visit the main attractions. Chinese visitors take lots of photos and use them to look back on their visit – so it’s important to provide plenty of opportunities and time during visits for this to happen.
“The more beautiful places they see, the more they share their memories on Wechat and Weibo – the two leading Asian social media programs are just as popular as Facebook is here.”