Yup. The Chinese have discovered Scotland big time. According to its tourist board VisitScotland, 62,000 Chinese tourists visited Scotland in 2017, a six-fold increase since 2009 and a number that is set to soar as more of the Chinese population moves into the middle class bracket, at which point foreign travel becomes affordable to them. The marketing bods at VisitScotland are to be applauded too as many Chinese now consider Scotland to be ‘Utopia’ with a visit there considered something of a status symbol.
With only 9% of all Chinese citizens holding passports that’s still a sizeable number still hoping to make the trip although not surprisingly, many Scots are concerned that the infrastructure will struggle to cope. They’re probably right to be concerned. Most of the photos we have seen of Scottish railways feature trains comprising just two carriages and the inter-islands ferries that operate in the Highlands hold at most ten cars at a time.
But let’s not be churlish. The Highland and Islands Enterprise development agency is already holding workshops to teach local businesses how to cater to Chinese tourists with advice including the need to provide chopsticks and picture menus. Eating Haggis with chopsticks? Should be interesting.