Staff at the Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa pulled out all the stops recently to welcome ten UK-based Chinese tour operators who visited Newmarket to check out its unique tourism qualities.
The overnight stay at Newmarket’s only four-star hotel was part of a three-day tour seeing the best tourism spots in the East of England in a joint promotion organised by Essex County Council, Visit Essex, Suffolk County Council, Visit Suffolk, The Newmarket Experience, Norfolk County Council and Visit Norfolk.
Noel Byrne, Chief Executive of Bedford Lodge Hotel said: “Newmarket is a truly unique town when it comes to horses. Nowhere in the world matches the facilities we offer in terms of vets, studs, breeding, sales, history and racing.”
The tourists’ whistle-stop tour included a visit to the gallops, two of the many horse yards, National Stud, Rowley Mile Racecourse, Tattersall’s, Animal Health Trust followed by dinner at The Jockey Club Rooms.
After an overnight stay at the hotel, guests tucked into a traditional Chinese breakfast in the award-winning Squires restaurant, including congee – rice porridge, green onion and egg – salted duck eggs, steamed dumplings and egg noodle soup.
Then they left for more sightseeing in Norfolk including Sandringham.
Between them the 10 Chinese tour operators organise the majority of inbound Chinese tourism to the UK, bringing over between 150 and 2,000 groups each per year, made up of luxurious leisure tourists, business tourists, official/training delegations, summer/winter camp students groups, and Chinese people living in UK.
Before the visit Essex County Councillor Sue Lissimore, Deputy to Councillor Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth & Infrastructure, said: “Chinese travellers are becoming a major segment growth opportunity for the UK tourism industry. We’ve long recognised the potential growth and increasing importance of the Chinese tourists’ market.”
Councillor Richard Smith MVO, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Environment and Planning, said: “We all know what a fantastic place Suffolk is to work, rest and play in – we now need to blow our trumpets harder and wider to extend our unique offer to those increasing numbers of Chinese tourists, both individual and groups, looking for ‘destinations’ that can offer a package of experiences within each County.”
Amanda Bond, brand manager at Visit Suffolk adds: “Visit Suffolk are excited about welcoming such an esteemed group of tour operators to the county in partnership with Norfolk and Essex. China offers huge potential to the visitor economy and by 2020 will be one of the main contributors to a 60% growth in global tourism.
“If we need further convincing, the average spend per Chinese visitor is £1688 compared to the average of just £567. So by working in partnership with Newmarket Experience, we have pulled together a truly inspiring visit in and around the home of horseracing, carefully matching the experiences with the Chinese visitor which we hope will feature in future operator itineraries.”