Culture secretary Maria Miller (pictured) has outlined plans to make the UK the most welcoming destination in Europe for Chinese visitors.

The China Welcome initiative, to kick off next spring, was unveiled as part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s three-day visit to China.

It will showcase, promote and develop how the UK travel industry caters to the needs of Chinese visitors.

Virgin Atlantic, Marketing Manchester, Marketing Birmingham, Hilton Worldwide, Gretna Green, Celtic Manor in Wales, the John Lewis partnership, Bicester Village, Harrods and The Roman Baths in Bath are backing the promotion.

They are already providing information in Mandarin and adapting to attract more Chinese visitors.

VisitBritain will work with businesses to build on this progress, sharing customer insights, raising cultural awareness and encouraging the training of qualified Mandarin-speaking guides – as well as translated websites and visitor literature.

VisitBritain aims to attract 650,000 Chinese visitors a year by 2020, worth almost £1.1 billion.

The tourist agency has endorsed UKInbound’s launch of the first Chinese Tour Guide Accreditation Scheme in the UK. Courses will start in London in February, with support from Capela Training, China Holidays and London & Partners.

Today’s announcement in Shanghai was also a call for more tourism businesses to sign up and get involved. Signatories will benefit from an increased competitive edge and better recognition from Chinese tourists, the government claims.

Miller said: “Britain is very much open for business and this is just the beginning. We want businesses from up and down the country to get involved, sign up and be part of this new game-changing initiative.

“The new ‘China Welcome’ initiative shows how serious we are about making sure Britain is ahead of the competition when it comes to attracting Chinese businesses and tourists.

“We are determined to encourage more Chinese people come to our shores, enjoy our culture, heritage, food, sport, shopping, countryside and music and invest in our country.”

VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe added: “In the last 12 months China has become the largest tourism source market in the world, worth $102 billion.

“We want to make sure that Britain competes effectively for this market, helping the industry to develop products and services that appeal to Chinese visitors and making sure that the message of the GREAT British welcome is widely promoted.”