The U.K. will spend 8 million pounds ($13 million) to attract Chinese tourists to take advantage of a growing middle class in the world’s most populous nation, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.
The U.K., capitalizing on the success of the London Olympic Games that ended two days ago, is seeking to treble the number of Chinese visitors to 500,000 a year by 2015, which Hunt said would lead to more than 500 million pounds in annual extra visitor spending and create 14,000 extra jobs.
“Only around 150,000 Chinese tourists visited our shores last year,” Hunt told an audience of tourism workers at the Tate Modern museum in London today. “The numbers are rising, but it is still estimated that France attracts between 25 and 50 percent more Chinese visitors than the U.K. We simply cannot afford such a comparatively small share of such an important market.”
Hunt, who is married to a Chinese woman, has championed U.K.-Chinese relations. The culture secretary spent more than 2,500 pounds of taxpayers’ money learning Chinese, according to Freedom of Information requests published in newspapers last year.
The minister, who faced calls for his resignation over his handling of News Corp.’s 2010 bid for British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc, said in an interview on July 20 he was now a “hero” once again and refused to rule himself out as a future prime minister. He was asserting his position within the Cabinet before the ministerial reorganization that Prime Minister David Cameron plans for September.