The city of York, being one of the most historic towns in the UK, is well known for attracting thousands of Chinese tourists each year. In fact, the whole Yorkshire area has seen visitor numbers from the Asian economic powerhouse rise by 77% in 2018. But one unexpected benefactor of this booming trade, is Scott’s Fish and Chips on the A64 just outside the town.
Due to its prime location on the main coach route between York and London, it has always been a popular stop off for tourists. But the numbers started going up a gear in 2016. The reason? Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, along with then UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who stopped off for lunch here during a state visit. Official communications quickly filtered back to China, and soon middle-class tourists were flocking to Scott’s for their fish suppers too.
Manager Roxy Vasai estimates that in 2018 they have been seeing upwards of a hundred or so visitors a week. “We look out for a coach and when they’re coming we shout, ‘they’re here, there are 20, 30, 40, let’s make it ready for them’, she told the BBC.
Showcasing the Yorkshire enterprising spirit, Scott’s have recently translated their menu in Mandarin as well as putting up a profile on popular Chinese social networking sites such as QQ or WeChat. “We are very impressed by the Chinese tourists. They are very friendly, smiley and happy,” said the Scott’s spokesman.
The Chinese coaches have become a regular for Scott’s, at Bilborough Top, and they often take photos with the staff in and outside the restaurant. After Mr Jinping sampled a fish-supper on his official visit, many tour operators added a fish and chip supper to their itineraries – and Scott’s was in the perfect position to supply their demand.
Interestingly theirs was not the only UK business to see a lot of change after the Chinese Premier’s visit. The Plough, at Cadsden in Buckinghamshire was also privileged with a visit – and sparked a huge interest in ‘British style pubs’ in China. So much so, that The Plough itself was bought up by Chinese investment consortium SinoFortune the very next year. The group plans to build hundreds of mock British public houses across China in the next few years.
Also, in the news for a sudden influx of Chinese tourists, back in 2016, was the quiet village of Kidlington in Oxfordshire. Local residents were left baffled when coachloads of visitors descended on the town’s gardens and quiet suburban backstreets. Theories soon flocked around the internet to explain the mystery – from mistaken identity, to Inspector Morse fans or a social experiment. In the end, an enterprising local had some questions translated and solved the mystery once and for all by asking a tour guide. ‘The simple environment helps us get a true sense of your country’ said the guide.
Still, if Xi Jinping’s visit is still bringing income and culturally enriching tourism into the Yorkshire area several years after his visit? We’re all for it!