The long march to the Big White Streaker: British landmarks get a cultural revolution

Nearly 300 million people were asked to come up with names for each of 101 British locations or delicacies

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The Independent Online

First, marvel at the Big White Streaker. Then take a stroll around the Mountains Lakes Get You Drunk on Dreams or splash the cash on Custom-made for Rich People Street. Finally, no trip is complete without a visit to the Castle of Love from Outer Space followed by a steaming plate of Baa-Baa Pudding.

It may sound like the poetic itinerary of a psychedelic fairy tale, but the only slightly more prosaic reality is these are the names a Chinese visitor to Britain will soon be looking for when seeking the Cerne Abbas giant, Loch Lomond, Savile Row, Balmoral Castle and a plate of haggis.

Tourism chiefs today unveil the results of an attempt to outmanoeuvre competitors from France to Thailand and attract more Chinese visitors to Britain by asking them to give Chinese names to the UK’s most famous places and tourism attractions.

Using China’s most popular social media sites - Weibo and WeChat - nearly 300 million people were asked to come up with names for each of 101 British locations or delicacies over a ten-week period, leading to 13,000 suggestions.

The resulting monikers range from the enchantingly lyrical - The Shard skyscraper in London becomes A Tower Allowing Us to Pluck Stars from the Sky - to the exactingly literal - Knightsbridge is, witheringly, A Place Filled With Things to Attract Yuppies and Fashionable Ladies.

 

Managers of attractions are being encouraged to use their new Chinese name on their websites as well as putting a Chinese sign on their property to welcome a hoped-for flurry of Cantonese or Mandarin-speaking visitors.

The Sinofication of places from The Mall (Queen Avenue) to the Highland Games (Strong Man Skirt Party) is part of the battle to gain a bigger slice of the £90bn spent by the 100 million Chinese who are benefiting from the nation’s rising wealth to travel abroad each year and now form the world’s largest outbound tourism market..

In 2013, Britain received some 196,000 Chinese tourists who spent nearly £492m - an average of £2,508 per person, far more than overall average of £604.

But obstacles including the deterrent effect of needing to apply for a separate UK visa mean Britain lags far behind European competitors inside the Schengen area such as France, which had nearly 700,000 visitors.

Visa rules are being simplified and Visit Britain, the tourist board for the UK, wants to double the value of its Chinese market by 2020.

Chief executive Sally Balcombe said: “Chinese visitors already stay longer in Britain than in our European competitor destinations and are high spenders - every 22 Chinese visitors we attract supports an additional job in tourism. We want to ensure that we continue to compete effectively in this, the world’s biggest outbound market.”

The campaign, entitled Great Names for Great Britain, will encourage Chinese tourists to post photographs of themselves next to the Chinese name for a favourite attraction.

Quite what the natives make of their new labels remains to be seen but at least they come with a certain humour. The nation’s most longwinded place name - the Welsh village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch - becomes Healthy Lung Village on the basis that it can only be pronounced by those with sufficient breath.

Found in translation: Proposed new names

Brighton Pavilion - A pavilion of Indian architectural styles where people can see the moon’s reflection in the water pool.

The Mall - Buckingham Boulevard. Queen Avenue.

Trooping the Colour - Banners and flags ceremony.

Llanfairpwllgwyngyll-gogerychwyrndrobwllllan-tysiliogogogoch - Healthy lung village (because you need them to pronounce it). A village that hard to remember and also hard to forget.

Blackpool - Mysterious pool, happy sea. Deep pool carnival.

The Shard - A tower allowing us to pluck the stars from the sky.

Knightsbridge - A place filled with things to attract yuppies and fashionable ladies. Rich, tall, fashionable street.

Carnaby Street - Remembering the Old Days Street.

Harrogate - A place full of pleasant fragrance.

University Boat Race - Boffins boat race. Two Dragons Splashing in Water.

Grand National - It’s not just horse racing. Also filled with music, beauty, splendid attire.

Sherwood Forest - Forest of Chivalrous Thieves. Forest of Heroes.

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