‘Offer noodles and learn Mandarin’: Scottish hoteliers urged to do more to make Chinese visitors feel at home
- Hoteliers also told to provide visitors with chopsticks and picture menus
- Tourists disappointed Scottish goods are ‘made in China’
- Early closing in shops frustrates the Chinese appetite for retail therapy
They travel from the Land of the Dragon to the legendary home of the Loch Ness Monster in their droves, but an enterprise association is urging Scottish hoteliers to do more to make Chinese visitors feel at home.
Supplying in-room noodles, throwaway chopsticks and picture menus are among the recommendations that the Highland and Islands Enterprise development agency is making.
The agency developed the advice, which it rolls out in its China Ready workshops, in a bid to prepare businesses for a steady stream of Chinese tourists.
A wee dram: A group of young Chinese men and women enjoy a glass of Scotch but perhaps they need more of their creature comforts if they’re to feel at home on a trip to Scotland
The Highlands has become a real draw for China’s middle and upper classes – a trend that Chinese-Scot Monica Lee-Macpherson of the Scottish Highlands and Islands and Moray Chinese Association said Scotland could capitalise on.
She told the Times newspaper that the Chinese like to spend money and want to buy Scottish souvenirs to commemorate their visit.
However, on examining merchandise in the shops, the Chinese visitors are often disappointed to find the dreaded three words: ‘Made in China.’
Ms Lee-MacPherson, who has led tours for Chinese visitors to Scotland, says that opening hours for shops selling authentic Scottish goods could be more accommodating: closing times of 5 pm or 6 pm are too early for the tourists, and staff – some of whom speak Polish, Italian, Spanish or even Japanese – don’t know even the basics of Mandarin.
Of the 337,000 Chinese people who visited the UK in 2017, 62,000 went to Scotland and significantly more Chinese visited Scotland for pleasure than for work (79 per cent), than did the UK, as a whole, where it was more of an even split (51 per cent).
The Chinese are also a more important source of visitors to Scotland than the UK, as a whole, according to a report from VisitScotland: China ranks 18th in terms of tourism footfall to Scotland, but 23rd for the UK, as whole.
Adapting to the latest visitors has become a priority since the introduction of the first direct flights between China and Scotland last year.
Of the 337,000 Chinese people who visited the UK in 2017, 62,000 went to Scotland and significantly more Chinese visited Scotland for pleasure than for work (79 per cent), than did the UK, as a whole. Pictured is Kilchurn Castle, on Loch Awe
Hainan Airlines introduced four flights a week between Beijing and Edinburgh Airport in June.
Scotland has already made some moves to make its culture more accessible to its Chinese visitors.
On Burns Night on Friday, natives might be enjoying haggis, which was re-branded ‘baa baa pudding’ for the benefit of Scotland’s Chinese guests, a few years ago.
It joined a list of translations including ‘strong-man skirt party’ – otherwise known as the Highland Games – in a 2015 initiative, led by VisitScotland, to get the Chinese to rename Scottish places and pastimes.