The Lake District – Chinese Destination of Choice

Colin Fox, Marketing manager here at English Lakes Hotels will fly out to Hong Kong and also visit Guangzhou at the end of this month to join a group of UK tourism professionals promoting their businesses at Destination Britain China.

Colin Fox
Colin Fox

This is my third promotional visit to the country having been on previous trips to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong in 2011 on a VisitBritain mission and an independent trip to Shanghai back in 2003, prior to the UK having Approved Destination Status. Whilst planning for the upcoming visit I have met some really interesting people who are also linked to China and tourism in one capacity or another and I thought it would be great to share some of our collective thoughts and experience. In this first blog I spoke to Bob Cartwright.

Bob Cartwright, Director of Park Services at Lake District National Park Authority for more than 20 years, is a hugely experienced countryside management professional with extensive knowledge of protected landscape management, particularly in forging and developing local, national and international partnerships and relationships.

Bob during his visit to Changbai Mountain in northern China
Bob during his visit to Changbai Mountain in northern China

He is currently deputy chairman of Nurture Lakeland, a charity dedicated to forging links between Cumbria’s tourism industry and the county’s conservation organisations, which English Lakes has raised over £150,000 in recent years for various conservation projects.

Bob is also trustee and secretary of the Westmorland Red Squirrel Society which is a charity dedicated to the conservation of our iconic native red squirrels. At the invitation of the Changbai Mountain International Eco Festival Committee, Bob spoke on behalf of National Parks UK at the International Alliance for Protected Landscapes conference in Changbaishan, northern China this October. Read Bob’s thoughts on the Chinese inbound tourism potential for the Lake District.

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International ‘eco-festival’ on protected landscape management

How is the Chinese market changing?

The song might tell us how many bicycles there are in Beijing, but not that there are more than 330,000 hotel rooms in Shanghai. This is only explained in part by the city’s global reputation for business and inbound overseas tourism. Domestic tourism is now starting to soar as the Chinese prosper and enjoy more leisure time.

This phenomenal growth has already begun to evolve into outbound travel, which is increasing by more than 22 per cent each year. In five years, experts predict that China will have become the largest single market of international travellers. While we’re already beginning to see green (bamboo?) shoots, how can the Lake District take advantage of this burgeoning sector of the market?

Tell us a little about your visit to Changbai

My visit to Changbai Mountain in northern China, on behalf of National Parks UK, the umbrella body of all British national parks, was to speak at an international ‘eco-festival’ on protected landscape management.

I talked about how we nurture our finest countryside, while also promoting national parks as some of Britain’s finest destinations. Listening to others, it was clear we have much to offer our potential guests: excellent accommodation; good public transport links and fine food – alongside a wonderful cultural heritage, spectacular landscapes and well maintained paths and trails. And if we don’t have the high street names that Chinese shoppers crave, we offer different and unique products and shopping experiences that are just as appealing.

What attracts international visitors to The Lake District?

While I found many had heard of the English Lake District, and all had heard of London, most knew about Manchester (and other football cities) too. To know that we’re so accessible to Manchester Airport, as well as having so much to offer, really made people sit up. My Mandarin versions of Cumbria Tourism, English Lakes Hotels and Windermere Lakes Cruises’ brochures were snapped up faster than you can say dim sum!

I found the Chinese people I met, alongside delegates from fourteen other countries, quite spellbound by our exceptional countryside. But they were also reassured that they would find high quality accommodation and a rich array of attractions, as well as events and opportunities for independent adventure. Let’s make the Lake District their destination of choice.

In the next article in this short blog series, Colin will speak to Helen Moriarty, Senior Development Officer for Groundwork North East & Cumbria who is also keen to explore how forging international partnerships in China is good for the Lake District and the surrounding area. Earlier this year, Helen conducted a lecture trip to Nanjing University in East China. 

  •  Written by: Colin Fox, Marketing Manager at English Lakes

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