Increased inbound travel to the UK from China is being reported ahead of the start of Chinese New Year – the Year of the Dog.

The UK saw strong growth from China during the first nine months of 2017 with spending up 48% and visits up 33%.

VisitBritain estimates full year figures of about 330,000 visits and spending of around £667 million.

Forecasts for 2018 are projecting about 349,000 tourists from China to the UK with visitors spending about £722 million.

Visits from China to the UK more than doubled in the decade to 2016.

Chinese New Year, which gets underway on Friday (February 16), is a prime time for travel for the Chinese, and the UK is gearing up to host some of the largest celebrations outside Asia.

These range from three days of celebrations in Liverpool, parades in Manchester and lion dances in Birmingham, to festivals and performances in Durham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle and the Isle of Wight, as well as London’s Chinatown and Trafalgar Square.

VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said: “We want the UK to be the destination of choice for visitors from China, the world’s most valuable outbound market.

“We’re building on the growth we have seen, launching a new campaign in China showcasing that Britain is bursting with fun activities and wonderfully unexpected experiences all year round.

“And we are working with commercial partners such as British Airways and Ctrip to convert the inspiration to visit into bookings, making it easier to travel here and explore more of the UK, driving our ambitious plans for growth.”

VisitBritain’s ‘I Travel For..’ digital marketing campaign was unveiled last week in China using short films and images to highlight Britain’s unexpected experiences and less-explored destinations, alongside globally renowned and iconic cultural landmarks and attractions.

Chinese visitors spend an average of £1,972 during trips to the UK, more than three times the average.

They also stay longer on their holidays in Britain than other international tourists, averaging ten nights compared to six from other countries.

Every 22 additional Chinese visitors that Britain attracts supports an additional job in tourism in the UK, according to VisitBritain.

VisitBritain’s ambition is to double spend from Chinese visitors in the UK to £1 billion a year by 2020.