by Xinhua writer Zhang Dailei
EDINBURGH, Britain, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- Taking the newly-launched direct flight from Beijing to Edinburgh, and using Chinese mobile payment platform WeChat Pay to purchase tickets to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Chinese tourists feel their holiday trips to Scotland this summer are more convenient and enjoyable.
"We are the first tourism business in Scotland to take on WeChat, so we are now at the very leading edge," David Allfrey, Chief Executive and Producer of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, told Xinhua.
Visiting China many times, Allfrey is not only looking forward to strengthening cooperation between his Military Tattoo and Chinese art groups, but also has a good understanding of the Chinese consumption preference.
With his support, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo reached an agreement with WeChat last year to become the first institutional user of the service in Scotland.
Starting from this summer, Chinese audiences can use WeChat to pay for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo tickets and souvenir.
"What we are watching is a increasing number of Chinese visitors coming to Tattoo, buying tickets on WeChat. That's fantastic and it means that they are able, even they don't speak English, they can totally engaged and enjoy it. This is good for anybody," said Allfrey, who has been the producer of Tattoo since 2011 and plans to bring the world famous show to China in 2020.
"We now have official accounts in WeChat and Weibo, starting to tell the story of Tattoo in Chinese social media, which is very exciting and amazing," he added.
In Scotland, under a China Ready project initiated three years ago by Edinburgh Tourism Action Group(ETAG), tourism businesses like Military Tattoo are joining the league to better prepare themselves for the influx of additional Chinese visitors, especially after the first direct flight from China to Scotland, starting June this year.
Edinburgh, which is already the most popular UK destination for Chinese visitors after London, wants to improve its tourism sector to ensure that Edinburgh is positioned as one of the UK's premier China-friendly destinations, according to ETAG.
The figures offered by the tourism promoting agency VisitScotland show that Edinburgh Castle alone welcomed over 170,000 Chinese nationals in 2017, accounting for 10.4 percent of total visits to the Castle.
Total spend by Chinese visitors to Scotland has increased by 414 percent, from 7 million pounds to 36 million pounds since 2007.
Continuous growth of the Chinese visitor market to Edinburgh presents an opportunity for the city's tourism sector.
Chinese visitors in Edinburgh now can see Chinese welcoming signs on doors of many stores. In almost every Scottish wool or Scotch whisky store along the downtown Royal Mile, Chinese customers can seek help from at least one Chinese-speaking sale assistant.
The city's leading visitor attractions, hotels and information centers are offering Mandarin "Welcome to Edinburgh" Guide which was first published last year, and more tourism businesses are considering catching up with Chinese spending and payment trends.
These services are provided based on careful surveys which showed the five most common requests by Chinese tourists are free WiFi, Chinese payment facilities, kettle in room, city map in Chinese and availability of Chinese restaurants and food.
ETAG Chair Robin Worsnop said: "Our research shows that 50 percent of Edinburgh's Chinese visitors also visit the Highlands; and 38 percent head to Glasgow. With numbers like these and the first-ever direct flight arriving from China, there is never been a better time for Scotland's tourism businesses to get China-Ready."