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Chinese tourist

Big Ben posing with Chinese tourists

Visit Britain searches for tourists by advertising the UK abroad. But what emerges from their report is that tourists are themselves drawn to travel in search of…

That’s the big question and it turns out that there is no one convenient answer. Different countries, cultures age groups and genders are in search of different things.

Visit Britain advises that one market Britain to different cultures in different ways.

The Chinese: They are particularly keen on seeing famous locations on their travels. 72% of them agreed with the statement ‘When I’m on holiday I like to see famous and well-known locations’ more than any other. Just 11% agreed strongly that, ‘When I’m on holiday I like to explore new places away from the crowds’. Research show that they tend to be what’s called “trophy tourists”. This is largely because Western destinations are often seen to be aspirational and a badge of sophisticationand. There is an element of “status anxiety” that motivates the Chinese to travel to the West.

In more mature markets such as Australia tourists want to get beneath the surface of destinations a bit more, getting away from the crowds so highlighting authentic cultural experiences (eg pubs) and ‘hidden gems’ whilst maintaining an element of the ‘must-see’ attractions is important. This is because in consumers’ continued search for meaning in their lives, visitors are looking for emotional satisfaction from their holidays and to return home with experience, not just photos!

Not all countries are keen to get underneath the surface of Britain and meet locals. Indians for example expressed no particular interest in talking to the British as part of the experience of visiting England – for them it is more about seeing Britain.

For Latin Americans London is the key driver to visit England and embodies the mix of modernity and heritage that is Britain’s Unique Selling Point. They come to Britain for its tradition, heritage and architecture but ALSO for its innovation, hub of trends, dynamism and buzz.

Young Canadians in particular wanted to understand local culture and even to blend in / live like a local whereas older Canadian travellers were more likely to speak of exploring museums, galleries, music and the arts.

When affluent American parents spend significantly on their children, it is often on cultural activities, such as international travel. These parents are keen to teach their children to value philanthropy, cultural experiences and personally enriching activities above that of material goods so as to ensure that their children are cultured and well-rounded.

Tourists from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, and Estonia, tend to be more interested in participating in the city cultural activities (eg restaurants, shopping, galleries etc.) than visiting the built heritage environment (such as famous buildings and monuments) and undertake these activities to a lesser extent than do other tourists.

Conversely, some of the Asian nations felt that castles and stately homes had a sense of mystery or the unexplained to them which they related to from their own cultures and found highly appealing in Britain.

Tourists from Nordic countries tend to have a high opinions of Britain’s culture. They are very Anglophile in their outlook and they travel to Britain for the cultural experience in the broadest sense. They are more heavily influenced by culture when choosing a holiday destination than by history. Finns and Danes in particular are attracted to Britain’s interesting cities and towns as well as city specific things like restaurants, pubs and bars, shopping, museums and galleries and less inclined to visit castles and stately homes.

Countries with strong historic links to Britain tend to rate the built heritage very highly, hence tourists from New Zealand, Australia, the USA, Canada, and South Africa are most likely to visit historic buildings.

Britain’s gardens although highly regarded by the majority of nations are particularly appealing to the Japanese and Egyptian markets. Visiting gardens is also a high priority for older visitors especially for women.

Going to a pub in Britain is far more appealing to more mature markets than emerging ones, and to younger visitors than older ones. Visitors aged 16-34 are more likely than other age groups to be found in a pub, but older visitors often go too. British pubs consistently ride high on the list of positive perceptions about Britain.

For some nations, such as the Nordic countries, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, and Ireland going to the pub is seen as one of the top priorities for a trip to Britain. For other nations, such as Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Egypt, and Turkey going to the pub is not seen to be one of Britain’s highlights (probably due to a mixture of cultural and religious views). Other activities are far more appealing.

To New Zealanders British culture can appear too similar to their own country which can be a disincentive to visiting Britain.

For the Japanese, a shared “island culture” is felt to be a similarity with Britain. The two countries are perceived to have a plethora of features in common: there is a royal family in both countries; both cultures have a deeply ingrained respect for tradition and the people are quite similar in their reservedness and consideration for propriety. Japanese feel that Britain represents the quintessence of Japan. Britain is what Japan could have been. Japan is changing but Britain is perceived to be  over the same. Britain is all about tradition and stability. “You could always go back to it and you will find it the same”. Japan respects traditions and yet has an obsession with novelty and changes. The juxtaposition between Britain and Japan inevitably leads to the comparison between the culture built of stone and that of wood. Britain is built of stone and thus seen to be everlasting whilst Japan is built of wood which is temporary. While being a land of traditions, Japan is also a land of transient beauty (wabi-sabi), of fireworks and cherry blossoms where, in reality, nothing lasts long.

Chinese have a strong respect for Britain’s “1000 year old history” as they see it as a kinship between the two countries. Royalty and aristocracy are big draws and the Chinese express an interest in experiencing life in palaces and castles and following in the footsteps of royalty.

So whilst not all tourists are created equal, cycling does transcend culture, gender and age boundaries being an activity that can be enjoyed by all. We at http://www.goodwheelrentabike.co.uk look forward to being of service to all tourists regardless of their reasons for travelling to the UK.

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