200 tourism delegates from across Scotland will on Thursday attend a first-of-its-kind National China-Ready Conference, coordinated by Edinburgh Tourism Action Group, Scottish Enterprise and Edinburgh Airport, aimed at helping Scottish businesses prepare for the influx of additional Chinese visitors arriving on the inaugural direct flight from China to Scotland, starting 12 June.
The event, held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, will give businesses the opportunity to hear further details of the four-times-per-week flight route from Beijing; learn from industry experts and local best-practice case studies about attracting and welcoming Chinese visitors and the latest Chinese shopping and payment trends; and meet a wide range of specialists and exhibitors offering support to businesses with their translation, business development and marketing needs.
Edinburgh Tourism Action Group Chair Robin Worsnop said: "Today's National China Ready Conference is all about practical and immediate steps that tourism businesses can implement to get in to the best possible position to benefit from the continued increases in Chinese visitors to Edinburgh and Scotland.
Over 170,000 visitors of Chinese origin came to Edinburgh Castle in 2017, and our research shows that 50% of Edinburgh's Chinese visitors also visit the Highlands; and 38% head to Glasgow. With numbers like these and the first-ever direct flight arriving from China in a month's time, there's never been a better time for Scotland's tourism businesses to get China-Ready".
The direct flight service will be operated by Hainan Airlines from Beijing's Capital International Airport, starting Tuesday 12 June and arriving in to Edinburgh at 06.00 after a 11h30 flight every Tuesday and Saturday; and arriving at 09.10 on a Thursday and Sunday (after a 14h40 flight from Beijing via Dublin).
Edinburgh Airport Chief Executive Gordon Dewar said: "The arrival of the first ever direct flight from China in just 33 days' time will be an especially proud moment, and the culmination of years of planning, negotiation and collaborative effort across the city and Scotland.
However, the hard work starts now as we pull together to roll out the red carpet for an ever-increasing number of Chinese visitors eager to make the most of Scotland's cities, scenery, universities and business opportunities".
A wide range of businesses will attend the conference – including Gretna Green, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, V&A Dundee, Peebles Hydro, Nevis Range and Harvey Nichols – as well as senior delegates from Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International and VisitScotland. The Guest of Honour will be Mr. Pan Xinchun, Chinese Consul General in Edinburgh. Leading local businesses will share best practice, including Rabbie's Tours, who last year launched a bespoke one-day Mandarin guided tour from Edinburgh to the Highlands; the Scotch Whisky Experience, who have focused on the Chinese market for many years and Laings, the Edinburgh-based jeweller which earlier this year won the China Welcome Award at the China Scotland Business Awards.