YORK'S visitor market from the Far East is set to grow following a new industry chartermark being awarded to the city's tourism agency.
Visit York is one of just six tourism organisations in the country to have this month been honoured with the GREAT China Welcome Charter, acknowledging the city's commitment to welcoming Chinese visitors.
The GREAT China Welcome is a new bid by the national tourism agency VisitBritain to make UK the destination of choice for the rapidly growing Chinese market, which has doubled in the last ten years, with tourism bosses hoping to treble visitor numbers by 2020.
The aim of the new charter is to help Chinese visitors easily identify hotels, attractions, shops and tour operators who understand their travel needs.
Michelle Brown, marketing manager of Visit York, said: "This is fantastic news for York. This new charter will open up a world of opportunity in the Chinese market for us.
"It means that York will be promoted in China by VisitBritain, including translating York information into Chinese, the city will be promoted in Chinese tour operator manuals and Visit York will take part in forthcoming sales missions as well as having access to the all-important Union Pay system, the preferred method of payment for Chinese visitors."
The Churchill Hotel, in Bootham, is Visit York's first member business to also be awarded the Charter.
As well as marketing to Chinese travellers in Mandarin in conjunction with the Royale Classical Hotels Collection, the hotel offers Chinese visitors a tailored welcome pack.
John Wallace, general manager of the Churchill Hotel,said: "The potential for York is huge and York ticks all the boxes when it comes to what the Chinese are looking for in a holiday in the UK.
"We would encourage other tourism businesses to get ready and work with Visit York to benefit from an increase in Chinese visitors in the years to come."
With China estimated to be York's 10th largest overseas tourism market, up from19th place ten years ago, Visit York is planning to launch a new video to entice Chinese visitors to York, which will be filmed in June with a Mandarin-speaking presenter, and screened in all Visa application offices in 11 cities in China.
Visit York has already committed to offering training for tourism businesses in York, set up social media channels in China on Weibo and Weixin, and produced a new visitor guide in simplied Mandarin.