A Chinese specialist tour operator in Australia has launched its first UK-facing programme.

China Holidays Travel Group has been in business for 10 years and started a New Zealand-facing programme two years ago.

UK general manager Phil Hard­castle said the UK was a logical step in the company’s development as it expands operations globally and carves itself a slice of the British travel market in China.

“The number of UK travellers to China increased by about 30% last year and we expect it to continue to rise. It therefore made sense for us to be based in another English-speaking country,” he said.

The operator has launched a mini brochure, the China Tour Book 2008, featuring five group tours and four mini tours taking in mainland China and Hong Kong. Although the main brochure was not due until later this month, Hardcastle said the mini brochure would allow agents to sell product during the peak season.

He added: “Now is a boom booking time for us, so we wanted to capitalise. The suggested tours can be used as a stand-alone holiday or booked as tailor-made options.”

Hardcastle said while the operator featured the traditional city visits expected of a China specialist, it also featured more up-and-coming destinations including Jiuzhaigou, Xiamen and Tibet as well as the Shangri La region in Yunnan province.

With an office in China, staff can source accommodation from across the country. There is also a 24-hour helpline based in China, said Hardcastle.

Prices start at £799 per person for an 11-night China Highlights tour, including all domestic flights and a mixture of full and half-board accommodation.