A three-year deal has been struck by VisitBritain to market the UK to Chinese bank card holders.

The partnership is designed to support increased acceptance of China’s UnionPay cards in the UK.

There are 50,000 merchants in UK which accept UnionPay cards and the majority of UK ATM machines also accept the cards.

VisitBritain hopes the agreement struck in Beijing will encourage Chinese tourists to travel to and beyond London and to increase merchant acceptance of the cards.

It comes as part of a campaign to try to become the most welcoming destination in Europe for Chinese visitors and follows the government announcing a relaxation of visa rules.

The partnership will be part of the tourist body’s GREAT campaign, using the themes of shopping, heritage and culture to build visitor numbers and spend from China.

The Chinese inbound market was worth £300 million a year to Britain in 2012 and is growing at 25% a year.

VisitBritain chairman Christopher Rodgrigues said: “This partnership marks a milestone with our work in China. We expect to further expand our reach in the world’s fastest outbound growing market while providing more Chinese consumers with a greater level of convenience when they travel and shop in Britain.

“We are confident that the partnership with UnionPay International will help us attract more high spending visitors from China.”

Culture secretary Maria Miller said: “Britain is one of the greatest countries in the world for tourists, with our historical palaces and heritage sites to our world class museums and galleries, and I’m very pleased that this partnership will help more Chinese tourists visit the UK.

“We have already announced a simpler visa system for Chinese holiday makers and our message is clear, Britain is open for business and Chinese visitors should come and experience all the great sites, shops and galleries we have to offer,”

Su Ning, chairman of UnionPay International, said: “This co-operation further strengthens the friendship and the collaborative relationship between UnionPay International and VisitBritain.

“Chinese UnionPay will continue to strengthen the understanding, pushing forward the passion of Chinese tourists to visit Britain and play a proactive role in promoting a personnel exchange between China and Britain.”