HOTELS, restaurants and visitor attractions in the Capital are being urged to become “China ready” after welcoming hundreds of thousands of Chinese tourists to the city.
The Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (Etag) launched a new initiative yesterday – on National China Day – that will allow businesses to take part in a variety of training programmes to make their firms more suitable for the Asian country’s culture.
Firms will be given the chance to learn about the preferences and expectations of Chinese guests, and obtain practical advice on issues such as translation.
They will be taught about the use of e-commerce and social media and be given the opportunity to join a network of China-friendly businesses and share best practice.
The idea has emerged after the volume of Chinese people visiting the city increased fivefold in the last decade, with Edinburgh Castle welcoming more than 100,000 Chinese tourists last year alone.
Meanwhile, the National Museum of Scotland said its Chinese visitor numbers had jumped from three per cent to seven per cent in 2014.
Robin Worsnop, Etag chairman, said: “The growth of the Chinese visitor market to Edinburgh in recent years has been far faster than we anticipated, which presents a great opportunity for the city’s tourism sector.
“We really want to build on that and the China Ready initiative aims to provide businesses with information and practical support to help them make the most of this opportunity and ensure that Edinburgh offers a great experience for our Chinese guests.”
The city already enjoys important cultural and diplomatic links with China – the latest Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo featured 150 performers from the country, and there are more than 3000 Chinese students here.
Edinburgh is also the only city in the UK to have been chosen to care for two giant pandas.
Key businesses that will be targeted by the new initiative are hotels, restaurants, visitor attractions, city landmarks and retailers.
The ambition also remains for Edinburgh Airport to establish a direct air link with China.
Tristan Nesbitt, general manager of Sheraton Grand Hotel and chairman of the Edinburgh Hotels Association, said: “Chinese customers are already an important and increasing part of our international client base, so we’re delighted to collaborate in this initiative to share best practice and continue to develop Edinburgh’s position as one of the UK’s premier China-ready destinations.”
Manuela Calchini, VisitScotland regional partnerships director, said: “China is an important and growing market for the Scottish tourism sector and we will continue to work with our partners to encourage even more visitors to sample our beautiful country.”
The first phase of the initiative will be delivered throughout the winter and early spring next year.