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Businesses must gear up for Chinese after visa change
5:00pm Thursday 31st October 2013 in News
OXFORDSHIRE businesses need to gear up for the Chinese invasion, experts have warned.
Plans are in place by the Government to relax visa requirements for Chinese tourists visiting the UK.
Now retailers are being warned to put plans in place to attract the new wave or risk losing out to other European countries.
Giles Ingram, director of Experience Oxfordshire, formed by the merger of Visit Oxfordshire and Oxford Inspires, said: “The Chinese outbound travel market is one of the fastest growing in the world.
“Unfortunately, the UK’s ability to tap into this great number of Chinese visitors is hugely lagging behind mainland Europe.
“Each year gone by represents millions of pounds of income for the country and county gone. We are too slow on this, it has taken too long.”
Mr Ingrams, who took up his post two months ago, said Experience Oxfordshire is often asked to provide Mandarin-speaking guides but does not have any.
“We know it’s a gap and are starting to have conversations about how to fill it,” he said.
“We plan to be more competitive in what we can offer the Chinese. “Once the regulations are relaxed, we want to be in a position to take advantage of them.”
A prime destination for Chinese visitors is the Bicester Village discount designer shopping outlet.
A third of its six million visitors each year are from China and bosses are striving to attract more.
Street names at the village are in both English and Mandarin and 70 per cent of retailers now accept the China Union pay card.
Spokesman Miranda Markham said: “We hope that relaxing of the visa requirements will make it easier for Chinese visitors to come to the UK, but what has been announced so far is only a small step and a lot more still needs to be done.”
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