Tourism body taps into Chinese social network

Edinburgh tourism chiefs are to use Chinese social networks such as Weibo to try to tap into the lucrative Chinese visitor market.

Chinese tourists Shimy Fangfang and John Zuoming admire a Castle guard's kilt.
Chinese tourists Shimy Fangfang and John Zuoming admire a Castle guard's kilt.

The £40,000 campaign by the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group will serve up tips, itineraries and promotions in Mandarin on Weibo and rival site WeChat from the city’s most popular tourism businesses, recommending key points of interest for Chinese travellers, such as history, architecture, film locations and shopping.

Most Chinese nationals are unable to access western social media such as Facebook and Twitter, with three quarters of Chinese citizens saying they rely on Chinese social media when making travel plans, according to the World Tourism Cities Federation’s 2015 Chinese Outbound Tourism study.

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Robin Worsnop, chairman of Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG), said: “The growth of the Chinese visitor market to Edinburgh presents a great opportunity for the city’s tourism sector. We know Chinese visitors love our historic, walkable city, our top attractions, our architecture and our unique links to major films like Harry Potter.

“Working together as a group of businesses, and supported by Scottish Enterprise and the VisitScotland Growth Fund, we’re confident that these brand new official Edinburgh channels on Chinese social media platforms will help Scotland’s capital become a “must see, must visit” destination for Chinese visitors.”

The latest marketing push to the Chinese market is the next phase of the city’s China-Ready initiative - launched by ETAG in 2015 and supported by Scottish Enterprise - which has seen over 200 hotels, visitor attractions, universities, festivals and retailers across the city engage with cultural awareness workshops, guides and meetings aimed at increasing Chinese visitor numbers and developing the city’s position as a China friendly destination.

Manuela Calchini, regional director at VisitScotland, which funded the campaign, said: “China has huge growth potential for tourism in Scotland and we’re delighted to support the Edinburgh Chinese Social Media Campaign, through the VisitScotland Growth Fund.

“The campaign will give a platform to promote the very best of what Edinburgh has to offer: from its stunning architecture, fascinating history and world-renowned festivals to its delicious food and drink. And with the Scottish capital receiving 87 per cent of Chinese visitors to Scotland, the success of this campaign will no doubt be felt far beyond the city walls.”

Nineteen businesses, including Edinburgh Castle, Haggis Adventures and the Scotch Whisky Experience, have joined forces with ETAG to support the new social media channels targeting the world’s largest inbound visitor market.