Cambridge Sustainable Tourism Conference is the premier platform for engaging inbound tourism operators with the key stakeholders of the Cambridge tourism, retail, hospitality and conference sectors. For CSTC 2019 – China Sector, in addition to the unique chance to network with Chinese tourism operators and the leading voices and suppliers in Cambridge and Beyond under one roof, attendees will gain insight into the emerging trends of inbound tourism from China, the calling for `sustainable tourism development’, and the diverse retail and tourism offerings in Cambridge and Beyond areas.

 Despite concerns of an economic slowdown, Chinese overseas tourism continues to rise. Reports on Chinese tourism find that the majority of Chinese tourists say that the “beauty and uniqueness of a given destination is their primary consideration”.[1] Cambridge, with its beauty, history, world-leading university and tech cluster, has that extra appeal. Inbound tourism will almost certainly continue to rise, but the ways in which the visitors interact with the city can be shaped to benefit Cambridge more-evenly.

Recent trends of inbound Chinese tourism

Since 2012, tourists from China have consistently been the world’s top spenders in international tourism and are predicted to keep extending their lead. The World Tourism Organization’s 2016 figures note that travellers from mainland China spend twice the international average of other tourists; a sum of over US$261 billion (21% of the world’s international tourism spending).[2] These figures become even more impressive when one considers that currently only 9% of the Chinese population owns a passport and that this percentage is predicted to double to 18% by the end of 2020.[3]

It is clear that the rise of inbound tourism can and will continue to have significant impacts on Cambridge and the UK. The question is how the Cambridge tourism sector can recognise and adapt to the developments of inbound tourism in order to maximise the potential benefits?

A clear example is how the popularity and convenience of mobile payments is overlooked by many Cambridge businesses that depend on Chinese tourists. Neilson’s most recent report on tourism trends found that 65% of Chinese tourists reporting that they paid for their expenses via mobile payment, while the average for non-Chinese tourists using mobile payment is a mere 11%. Increasing the availability of mobile payment platforms significantly encourages spending by Chinese tourists.[4]

Some Cambridge businesses have spotted this trend and have increased their competitive edge by working with the Cambridge China Centre to accept Alipay (a massively popular mobile payment service in China). Alipay allows merchants to offer a service that Chinese tourists trust and to advertise directly through the Alipay marketing platform to the mobile phones of Chinese visitors. For businesses in Cambridge’s tourist sector, recognising trends like mobile payments will increasingly be the difference between engaging the interest of the world’s highest-spending tourists, or having them pass by as they go to a competitor with an easier, more-trusted mobile payment system.

MICE- a multi-billion-pound industry

One of the fastest-growing tourist sectors from China is called the ‘Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Event’ (MICE) industry. Visit Britain’s 2018 China MICE Market Study reports that MICE tourism can generate millions in revenue for UK cities. MICE tourism combines a long-standing culture of travelling for official reasons, such as business and learning, with an opportunity for a holiday adventure.[5] The enormous logistics are often handled by professional agencies that favour destinations that are memorable, easily accessible and can accommodate hundreds of visitors. Since MICE operators are constantly refreshing their offerings to gain an edge within their own highly-competitive industry,[6] it is reasonable that with co-ordinated strategies within the Cambridge tourism industry, Cambridge could be quickly added to the Chinese MICE operator portfolios. This would enable Cambridge’s hotel, hospitality and shopping industries to benefit from corporate tourists that are spending more, staying longer and exploring further.

The Cambridge Sustainable Tourism Conference (CSTC) 2019-China Sector will be held at the University Arms on Thursday the 2nd of May 2019, co-organised by Cambridge China Centre and Visit Cambridge & Beyond, and supported by Cambridge BID, Meet Cambridge, Discover Newmarket, Palace House, Ely Cathedral, Visit Ely and University Arms.

Further information and ticket booking link can be found here.



[1] Nielson Global (2017) Outbound Chinese Tourism and Consumption Trends.

[2] World Tourist Organisation: China: Country-specific: Outbound tourism 1995 – 2017 (01.2019).


[4] Nielson Global (2017) Outbound Chinese Tourism and Consumption Trends.