Recognizing the importance of high-spending Chinese travelers, London luxury retailers are rolling out the welcome carpet to attract this all-important group of customers.
New West End Company, an agency supported and run by retailers and property owners dedicated to driving shopping in London’s West End, launched London Luxury, an initiative to encourage Chinese travelers to spend at the luxury shopping district. London’s West End district, which include Bond Street, Mount Street, Jermyn Street, Savile Row and home to around 300 luxury retailers, hopes to compete internationally as a leading destination for luxury shopping with Paris, Milan, New York and Tokyo.
London Luxury is essentially a program that offers travel and shopping perks and services. The program provides Chinese travelers with shopping tours led by luxury experts sharing their expertise on luxury products. It also offers a package deal to shop and stay at five-star hotels in London. London Luxury will be heavily marketed to leading travel agencies in China.
“We expect Chinese visitors will spend 120 million pounds ($186 million) in London this year (36 percent higher than last year) after the launch of London Luxury in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong,” said Richard Dickinson, chief executive officer of New West End Company.
New West End isn’t the only company capitalizing on the growing Chinese tourist market. Swiss-based Global Blue launched a program in Beijing and Shanghai to promote its brands among Chinese travelers at top-tier travel agencies including China International Travel Service. It also established a Chinese-language website.
Importantly, Global Blue offers a tax refund service for shoppers — an additional enticement for Chinese shoppers who have to pay higher prices at home due to huge taxes on imported luxury goods. Last year, about 2 million Chinese shopped tax-free through this program. In the first half of 2010, tax-free shopping sales to Chinese shoppers jumped by 68 percent with tax-free shopping transactions up 34 percent, year-over- year. Global Blue charges a 4 percent commission for each transaction, slightly offsetting the tax benefit.
Global Blue expects travelers from China to account for 9% of international travelers worldwide by 2020.
photo credit: new west end