Learning how to give a warm Chinese welcome

Published: 2nd December 2015

Hot on the heels of a Lake District trade mission to Beijing, staff from Windermere Lake Cruises have been brushing up on some basic Chinese language and customs to help make visitors from China feel more at home. 

16 staff members from Windermere Lake Cruises have taken part in a special ‘China Welcome’ course, ranging from boat masters, skippers and boat crew, to ticket clerks and staff from the company’s gift shop and information centre.  With visitors to this country from China doubling in the last five years, it is part of the company’s ongoing work to adapt its services to the cultural expectations and behaviour of Chinese visitors heading to the Lake District. 

The one day ‘China Welcome’ training was delivered by Capela China and supported by VisitEngland as part of Northern Tourism Growth Fund. It covered a wide range of themes, from learning some basic Chinese language and pronunciation to a brief background in the country’s history, geography and economic growth.  There was also information about the different type of Chinese travellers heading for the UK, as well as tips on adapting tourism services and retail products to appeal more strongly to these groups. 

Skipper Paul Holdsworth took part in the China Welcome training. He says, “What’s considered everyday behaviour varies around the world and it’s important to recognise how different cultures view situations in very different ways. Seeing things from the customer’s perspective is really important and it’s also surprisingly easy to learn a few simple greetings like ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’. I think this training will really help me to make our international visitors feel more comfortable and valued by us as a company.”

The ‘China Welcome’ course comes as Windermere Lake Cruises’ Sales and Marketing Manager, Jennifer Cormack, returns from a joint Lake District trade mission to China to help strengthen business links. The delegation, which also included six other Cumbrian companies, was in Beijing for an intensive series of office visits and pre-planned appointments with Chinese tour operators and buyers as part of VisitBritain’s ‘Destination China’ event (23-26 Nov 2015). 

Jennifer Cormack says, “We met with more than 50 buyers during the Destination China event, building fantastic relationships with some very large and influential companies, and laying the foundations to bring more Chinese visitors to the Lakes. Back here, the China Welcome training has helped equip the team at Windermere Lake Cruises with some useful cultural knowledge and basic language skills to ensure Chinese visitors receive a really personalised welcome once they are here.”

The other businesses to take part in the China trade mission included English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues, Mountain Goat Tours, Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway, The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction, Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway and Ullswater Steamers.

Business can sign up for the ‘China Welcome’ training course by contacting Andrea Runkee at Cumbria Tourism: arunkee@cumbriatourism.org / 01539 822222.

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