Chinese big spenders in UK to hit a record

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The Independent Online

A record number of high-spending Chinese tourists are expected to arrive in Britain over the next week.

China's biggest holiday period – Golden Week and Chinese New Year – starts this weekend and is expected to double the number of such shoppers visiting the UK in search of luxury brands such as Burberry and Mulberry.

The amount spent by Chinese tourists has jumped by 31 per cent in the past year, and the 2,500 weekly visitors from China on average spend a staggering £1,164 in every transaction, according to research by Global Blue, based on duty-free purchases.

A further spike in visitors from the country is expected after amendments to the visa system in the UK late last year. The UK China Visa Alliance predicts the changes will give the UK economy a £1.2bn boost.

Global Blue vice president Richard Brown said: "Retailers are bracing themselves for a significant uplift in Chinese shoppers. Luxury brands are set to benefit the most, with high-net-worth Chinese shoppers favouring handbags, jewellery and watches."

The Chinese account for almost 20 per cent of non-EU international spending in the UK, and the average trip lasts about 13 nights. But there are concerns the UK is still losing out to Paris, Rome and other European cities because of easier visa processes via their membership of Schengen.

Many luxury goods retailers would like further changes to the visa process to attract even more wealthy Chinese visitors. Joseph Wan, the chief executive at department store Harvey Nichols, said: "We still need more practical changes such as increasing the number of locations for Chinese tourists to apply."

shoppers from the Middle East are still the number one high spenders on visits to the UK, while Brazil and Nigeria are noted as growing nations of spenders here.