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Lessons from England’s Unexpected Chinese Tourist Attraction

04 November 2016

Kidlington is a typical English village with approximately 14,000 residents that suddenly started seeing Chinese tourists flooding its streets in 2016. What began as a vivid discussion on the village’s local Facebook page soon became a viral story that captured the extent of the boom of Chinese tourism to the United Kingdom as well as the opaque travel preferences of Chinese tourists when they visit overseas destinations.

Chinese tourists increasingly seeking out “authentic” experiences has become a common theme in conference discussions about Chinese travel trends. With popular destinations such as Venice and Tokyo struggling with overcrowding and insufficient supply of hotel rooms, not only Chinese independent travelers, but also Chinese tour operators have begun including lesser-known travel destinations in their itineraries. Even though this development has proven to bring Chinese tourists to lesser-known destinations, what could possibly encourage Chinese tourists to visit Kidlington, arguably an unknown destination, remained a mystery. What do Chinese tourists find so special about this English village?

Speculation ran rampant on what could possibly attract busloads of Chinese visitors to what Tim Ashley, a regular Kidlington visitor, describes to Jing Daily as an “unassuming, ordinary town in Oxfordshire that’s not got anything particularly special.” Some online speculation suggested that Chinese tour operators have been falsely advertising Kidlington as a Harry Potter filming location, as well as the setting for various known British television drama series—but no evidence of such false advertising was ever found.


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