New research to help the Lake District attract Chinese visitors

Yan Li, Zhiling Lou and Colin Fox by the lake

16 July 2015

Two Management School students have been commissioned to help Lake District businesses by researching Chinese attitudes to overseas travel and tourism.

English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues enlisted the help of Yan Li and Zhiling Lou, who are studying Management MSc, to produce a report on Chinese tourism and the results will be used by the newly-formed China Forum to help develop plans to encourage more Chinese tourists to visit the region.

Yan Li and Zhiling Lou’s research will use questionnaires, focus groups and telephone interviews to explore what aspects of the Lake District would be of most interest to Chinese tourists and what types of activities would be most popular. They will also be investigating the most effective promotional tools to market the Lake District more widely to Chinese audiences.

As part of their research, the students were taken by tour company Mountain Goat to visit a number of Lake District tourism businesses this week. They paid a visit to Low Wood Bay Resort Hotel, Blackwell Arts Centre, The World of Beatrix Potter, Dove Cottage, Brockhole and Hill Top, as well as taking a trip on Windermere Lake Cruises and visiting Hawkshead.

The students' research will play a key role in preparations for a trade visit to Beijing in November, when Colin Fox from English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues will visit China together with representatives from a number of other leading Lake District tourism businesses. The group will meet representatives from the Chinese travel trade and the local media, as part of an initiative by the UK’s national tourism agency, VisitBritain.

Colin says: “There is growing recognition of the importance of the Chinese market for the Lake District. We are seeing increasing numbers of Chinese visitors coming to the area and it is essential that we make sure the Lake District is high on the list of places for Chinese people to visit in Britain.”

Chinese travellers are now the largest group of tourists in the world, and Britain is the fifth most popular destination for Chinese people travelling abroad for tourism or business. Chinese tourists visiting the county already outnumber Japanese tourists - traditionally one of the region’s most important overseas markets.

“China is one of the main emerging markets providing a new generation of international tourists,” explains Colin.

“We are keen to understand how to attract more Chinese people to visit the Lake District and the activities that should be offered. We are particularly interested in how we can best target groups such as Chinese students in this country and their families, as well as Chinese travel businesses organising visits to the UK.

“The overall aim of the research is to create a blueprint for promoting the Lake District and Windermere in the Chinese market. We hope that Yan Li and Zhiling Lou will help us get a much better understanding of what motivates Chinese tourists.  It’s a great opportunity to nurture and exploit a rapidly expanding tourism market.”

LUMS works closely with businesses to place students on consultancy projects that deliver benefits to the company, as well as providing invaluable experience for the students.

In 2014, more than 140 consultancy-style research projects were carried out with local businesses, the public sector and multinational companies.

Jennifer Peasnell, Company Projects Manager, said: “We work hard with partners such as the Lake District China Forum to align the needs of businesses with the right project and in doing so help develop the skills of our students, boosting their employability.”

Yan Li and Zhiling Lou's project was featured on ITV news.