News: Edinburgh to click with record visitor numbers as city’s first-ever social channels launch in China

Posted on 19 December 2016

WeiboWeChatLaunchEdinburgh’s record-breaking growth in Chinese visitors looks set to continue as city businesses, brought together by Edinburgh Tourism Action Group, launch Scotland’s first-ever destination campaign on influential Chinese social media sites Weibo and WeChat, opening up promotion of Scotland’s capital to a combined social audience of over 1billion users.

What are Weibo and WeChat?

Weibo is a micro-blogging website in China, similar to Twitter, and has almost 300m monthly active users. WeChat is China’s closest equivalent to WhatsApp and Facebook, and has over 800m active monthly users. Figures from the World Tourism Cities Federation’s 2015 Chinese Outbound Tourism study reported that 75% of Chinese outbound tourists rely on Weibo and WeChat for travel preparations. (Most Chinese nationals are unable to access Western channels such as Google, Facebook and Twitter).

“EdinburghOfficial” on Weibo and WeChat

The capital’s official Weibo and WeChat accounts, given a £40,000 funding boost from the VisitScotland Growth Fund, will 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 on influential travel sites such as CTrip (who recently acquired Edinburgh-based Skyscanner) will also promote the destination in key cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Robin Worsnop, Chair of Edinburgh Tourism Action Group, said: “The growth of the Chinese visitor market to Edinburgh presents a great opportunity for the city’s tourism sector. We know Chinese visitors love our historic, walkable city, our top attractions, our architecture and our unique links to major films like Harry Potter.

“Working together as a group of businesses, and supported by Scottish Enterprise and the VisitScotland Growth Fund, we’re confident that these brand new official Edinburgh channels on Chinese social media platforms will help Scotland’s capital become a “must see, must visit” destination for Chinese visitors”.

Official tourism figures show Chinese visitor spend to Scotland has exceeded £43 million over the last three years and Edinburgh Castle welcomed over 160,000 Chinese visitors in 2015. Nineteen businesses have joined forces to support the new social media channels targeting the world’s largest inbound visitor market.


Manuela Calchini, Regional Director at VisitScotland, said: “China has huge growth potential for tourism in Scotland and we’re delighted to support the Edinburgh Chinese Social Media Campaign through the VisitScotland Growth Fund.

The campaign will give a platform to promote the very best of what Edinburgh has to offer: from its delicious food and drink, to the stunning architecture, fascinating history and world-renowned festivals. And with the Scottish capital receiving 87% of Chinese visitors to Scotland, the success of this campaign will no doubt be felt far beyond the city walls.

“With Edinburgh playing a prominent role in the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, it is the perfect opportunity to encourage Chinese visitors to come face to face with history and explore our rich cultural heritage”.

Julie Trevisan-Hunter, Head of Marketing for the Scotch Whisky Experience said: “We have been focusing on the Chinese market for many years having introduced Mandarin Chinese to our audio guides as far back as 2005. In addition to language facilities our developments include staff training, trade relationship building, PR and accepting China Union Pay. The results speak for themselves with China now taking position as our third largest international market.  

“In order to be able to take our activity to the next level we really needed the support and strength of a destination collaboration and we’re thrilled to be working closely with other partners to promote Edinburgh to Chinese visitors on Weibo and WeChat”.


The channels will be managed by ETAG’s newly appointed Chinese Social Media Coordinator Alice He (from Hubei Province in China, and recent graduate of Tourism Marketing Management at Strathclyde Business School) and supported by Chinese Marketing Agency PingPong Digital.

This latest marketing push to the Chinese market is the next phase 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.

Danny Cusick, Director of Food & Tourism, Tourism and Textiles, Scottish Enterprise commented that: “Building awareness of Edinburgh through these new social media channels will not only support our ambitions for growing Chinese tourism to Edinburgh and Scotland, but complements Scottish Enterprise’s wider work to promote Scottish products, such as food, drink and textiles to the chinese market”.  

John Donnelly, Chief Executive Marketing Edinburgh said: “Edinburgh is the gateway to Scotland for our Chinese visitors. Improving connectivity and awareness of all Edinburgh has to offer through China’s main social networks is a crucial pathway to reaching this high-value market. It reinforces the message that Edinburgh and its businesses are ready to welcome our Chinese visitors.”

The channels, and associated digital advertising campaign in China, bring together and showcase a range of attractions and businesses that are working hard to promote themselves in China and develop products and services to attract this influential and lucrative market. Partners of the Edinburgh Chinese Social Media Campaign are:


  • Edinburgh Airport
  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Edinburgh First
  • Haggis Adventures
  • Laing Edinburgh
  • Rabbies
  • Scotch Whisky Experience
  • Scotrail
  • Turkish Airlines


  • Camera Obscura
  • Essential Edinburgh
  • Marketing Edinburgh
  • Multrees Walk
  • National Galleries Scotland
  • National Museums Scotland
  • Palace of Holyroodhouse
  • Royal Yacht Britannia
  • Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa
  • World Duty Free Ltd