As Chinese New Year starts, Edinburgh has extra cause for celebration as a social media campaign developed to bring Chinese visitors to the city has been declared an incredible success by VisitScotland.
The Edinburgh Chinese Social Media Campaign, launched in November 2016 by the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group, has acquired almost 60,000 followers and received 66 million impressions across its channels.
Supported by a £40,000 VisitScotland Growth Fund award, it has been a dynamic and influential collaboration of China-focused businesses, securing 21 private sector industry partners, as well as providing Chinese social media briefings to 75 businesses and sharing best practice with 132.
Edinburgh businesses are already seeing the benefits with participating businesses like Edinburgh Castle, Haggis Backpackers and Laing the Jeweller reporting 20 to 40 per cent increases in visitor numbers respectively. Five additional partners, including University of Edinburgh and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, joined the campaign as its success continued to grow.
The campaign looked to position Edinburgh as a “must-see” destination for China inbound visitors and contribute to the city’s ambitions to double Chinese inbound tourism by 2020. It used influential Chinese social media sites, Weibo and WeChat, to serve up tips, itineraries and promotions in Mandarin from the city’s most popular tourism businesses, recommending key points of interest for Chinese travellers, such as history, architecture, film locations and shopping.
Adverts and promoted posts on social media and digital campaigns also promoted the destination in key cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
The increased availability of Edinburgh’s official channels on Chinese social media resulted in organisations like National Geographic Traveller China and China Central Television looking to work with the campaign on projects which include a wedding photoshoot and a live-stream of the Giant Lanterns of China at Edinburgh Zoo.
China is an important and growing market for the Scottish tourism sector with Edinburgh being the most popular UK destination after London. Edinburgh Castle figures reveal that over 177,000 visitors of Chinese origin visited the landmark attraction in 2017.
The campaign is part of the city’s China-Ready initiative - launched by ETAG in 2015 and supported by Scottish Enterprise - which has seen over 200 hotels, visitor attractions, universities, festivals and retailers across the city engage with cultural awareness workshops, guides and meetings aimed at increasing Chinese visitor numbers and developing the city’s position as a China friendly destination.
Rob Lang, Chair of Edinburgh Tourism Action Group’s China Ready Initiative, said: “The support from Edinburgh’s tourism businesses - as well as VisitScotland’s Growth Fund and Scottish Enterprise - has enabled the destination’s first ever social media channels in China to exceed all our expectations. We’re ranked among the Top 10 WeChat city accounts worldwide and our city Weibo campaigns have been seen over 60 million times in China. Working collaboratively has helped us put Edinburgh and Scotland in the best possible position to benefit from the world’s largest outbound tourism market.”
Graham Kelly, VisitScotland Market Manager China & East Asia, said: “The Chinese market has huge growth potential for tourism in Scotland so it’s fantastic to see the phenomenal success of the Chinese Social Media Campaign.
"Supported by our Growth Fund, it has helped position Edinburgh as a “must see” destination for visitors from China. It’s great that Edinburgh businesses are already reaping the benefits and I look forward to welcoming many more Chinese visitors as this campaign continues to go from strength to strength.
“Partnership and collaboration is at the heart of Scottish tourism and VisitScotland works with local industry to develop and deliver innovative initiatives that grow the visitor economy.”
Danny Cusick, Director of Food and Drink, Textiles, Tourism and Fintech at Scottish Enterprise, said “The Edinburgh China Social Media Project is an excellent example of how Scottish Enterprise acts as the catalyst for developing new market opportunities, driving innovative new approaches and partnership investment. Scottish Enterprise staff have worked with the Edinburgh tourism industry to create unique new “pay to play” partnership model for the China market, which has resulted in investment by 21 tourism businesses, alongside Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland. This collective “Team Edinburgh” approach has demonstrated great results, with many partners reporting significant growth of between 20% - 40% in Chinese visitor numbers and spend.”
The VisitScotland Growth Fund supports collaborative tourism marketing projects which focus on growth and ensure that visitors experience the true Spirit of Scotland. To be eligible for a Growth Fund award, applicants must place a strong emphasis on digital marketing and the creation of digital content assets.The fund is administered by the Events – Developing the Industry team, which is part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
For more on the Edinburgh China Ready Initiative go to www.etag.org.uk/china/
For more on the VisitScotland Growth Fun go to www.visitscotland.org