Drive to encourage more foreign visitors to Norfolk

Visit Britain took 29 Chinese delegates on a tour of the region starting off on a boat trip from Sta

Visit Britain took 29 Chinese delegates on a tour of the region starting off on a boat trip from Stalham to Horning on four Richardson's boats. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Road signs across Norfolk could be displayed in Chinese in future to help drive more visitors to the area.

Visit Britain took 29 Chinese delegates on a tour of the region starting off on a boat trip from Sta

Visit Britain took 29 Chinese delegates on a tour of the region starting off on a boat trip from Stalham to Horning on four Richardson's boats. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Tourism chiefs made the revelation after taking 29 travel delegates from across China on a tour of the county at the weekend as part of a week-long visit to showcase the best of Britain during English Tourism Week (March 5 to 13).

They are working with travel operators on various projects to make foreign visitors feel more welcome, including translating tourist information signs into Chinese.

Travis Qian, who looks after VisitBritain's operation in China, said: 'Chinese visitors are attracted to Britain by its culture and heritage in the UK, and also natural beauty and very clean air.

'We have a welcome scheme that we're promoting through the entire British travel industry, we're working with hotels, tour attractions and tour operators trying to stage a better welcome for the Chinese visitors and the whole of the international tourists in future.'

Visit Britain took 29 Chinese delegates on a tour of the region starting off on a boat trip from Sta

Visit Britain took 29 Chinese delegates on a tour of the region starting off on a boat trip from Stalham to Horning on four Richardson's boats. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

And he added: 'Improved signage, or translation of literature or leaflets, would definitely help.'

The Chinese delegation visited Stalham to begin a cruise, organised by Richardson's Boating Holidays, on the Norfolk Broads on Sunday.

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Other highlights of their trip to Norfolk included a visit to the Bure Valley Railway, tour of Norwich City Football Club and dinner at Delia's restaurant.

When asked if they had considered installing Chinese signs in the national park, Bruce Hanson, tourism officer for the Broads Authority, said: 'It is something we are thinking of doing, we haven't done as yet but we very much intend to do it.

'Chinese tourists in Britain are the highest spending of all foreign tourists; they spend on average £2700 each and stay for about 10 days and that is perfect for a Broads boating holiday. They are keen on the cultural heritage and natural world and we've got it all here.

'I know having been out with Chinese people in the Broads that they absolutely love it so this is a tremendous opportunity for us to introduce the travel trade in China to the opportunities for a Broads boating holiday.'

Last year a record number of overseas visitors arrived in the UK with the East of England seeing visits grow five pc during the first nine months of 2015 to £1.7m.

There were 214,000 visits from China from January to September, beating the number of visits for all of 2014. And that figure is expected to continue to grow in 2016.

Greg Munford, CEO of the Richardson's Group, said: 'The potential in the Chinese market is huge. In 2008/9 we saw the domestic market picking up but I think now, to take it to the next level, we've got to attract people from abroad.

'The younger traveller from China is interested in exploring outside of London and this is where Norfolk and the Norfolk Broads really need to get behind the fact that we are a national park so all of a sudden we are on the world stage.

'To Norfolk itself it is a £2.9 billion industry and I think sometimes hospitality and the travel industry get overlooked as being a major industry in the UK.'

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