The Manchester-Beijing flight – and the improved relations between China and Yorkshire – is also predicted to further inject a boost into the region’s tourism industry, with tourist magnets such as York expected to prosper.
York has 6.8m visitors annually, according to the latest statistics from the Economic Impact Survey 2014. China is now estimated to be York’s fourth-largest ranking overseas market, the first time it has featured in the top five overseas markets visiting the city. It is estimated that China has moved up six places in the rankings over the last five years.
Kate McMullen, head of tourism at Make It York, said: “This first ever direct flight to and from Beijing marks a milestone for our relations with China. As a major international gateway into the north of England, a direct flight from Manchester opens up a world of new opportunities for York, Yorkshire and the north of England, both for tourism and for investment generally.
“China has moved rapidly from being York’s 11th largest overseas tourism market to a fourth place ranking, behind the US, Germany and France. We know, that whilst actual numbers of Chinese visitors are relatively small, this market is the fastest growing inbound tourism market to the UK and York is set to benefit hugely from this new route.”
Further consolidating links between China and the Yorkshire area, rail company First TransPennine Express (FTPE) – which runs services through Huddersfield and Dewsbury to Manchester Airport – has announced it intends to improve train services to the airport from Yorkshire and the Humber.
Leo Goodwin, inset, managing director for FTPE, said the company was planning to invest in improved and more frequent services that would make train travel more attractive to business passengers and tourists alike.
“In December 2017, we are introducing more direct services from Yorkshire to Manchester Airport,” he said. “We will also be transforming our customer proposition, and soon, all of our trains will have free Wi-Fi and media servers allowing the streaming of films and TV shows with plug sockets at every seat.”