The inaugural Lake District China Forum event – A pioneering initiative

Ahead of the new Beijing-Manchester airline route launching this June, businesses in Cumbria have been leading the way when it comes to attracting Chinese visitors with a showcase event in London.

In the first event of its kind for ANY English region, Lake District’s China Forum have held a special reception in the Capital specifically for Chinese tour operators and journalists, along with key figures from the European Tourism Association (ETOA), UK Inbound, Visit Britain and Marketing Manchester.

ennifer Cormack (Windermere Lake Cruises) and Colin Fox (English Lakes Hotels) meet Steven Ip from NeeHao magazine.
Jennifer Cormack (Windermere Lake Cruises) and Colin Fox (English Lakes Hotels) meet Steven Ip from Nee Hao Magazine

It also comes just weeks before Hainan Airlines launch their new direct service from Beijing to Manchester Airport on Friday 10 June, offering up to four direct flights per week and making it easier than ever before for Chinese visitors to explore the UK’s northern regions.

Sales and Marketing Manager for Windermere Lake Cruises, Jennifer Cormack, helped organise the London event to raise awareness of England’s largest national park and some of its best tourism attractions and assets.

Jennifer says, “As the world’s largest outbound market, Chinese travellers are a huge opportunity for the Lake District, Cumbria, and it is fantastic that so many of our businesses are joining together to take this message to key London-based influencers and show that we are a welcoming, world-class destination.

We are certainly very excited about the new direct flights into Manchester. Together with the existing rail infrastructure offered by Virgin from London and the ever-increasing frequency of direct trains, we’re in a great position to show how well connected and accessible we are to tour operators who can bring international visitors to the heart of the Lakes.”

She adds, “Special 2016 anniversaries such as the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birth and the 125th birthday of MV Tern – the oldest vintage ‘steamer’ still operating on Windermere – also help underline our rich culture and heritage, which is a vital message for the Chinese market.”

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Latest figures from VisitBritain show that visits from China were up 37% nationally in the first nine months of 2015, smashing previous records. There were 214,000 visits from China from January to September, beating the number of visits for all of 2014, with figures for the last quarter of 2015 still to come. Spend was up 4% over the same period, to £435 million.

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