More students, greater investment, tourism boost – a story of Eastern promise
Manchester’s Airport’s new flight to Beijing has been good for the region’s businesses. Exports from the north to China are now worth more than £200m a MONTH.
After the launch of Hainan’s new route a year ago trade profits have nearly trebled – and Manchester’s link with China is booming in other ways too.
Many Chinese tourists heading to the UK are now more likely to start in Manchester. And they’ve spent more than £138m – double what they spent in the year before the route launched
The number of students travelling from China to study here has also increased – with twice the national average choosing Manchester.
In its first year, the airline has carried 90,000 passengers between the two countries.
Meanwhile, inquiries from China to Manchester property and investment agents have doubled – with the ‘potential’ to create 850 new jobs in the city region.
And the boom goes both ways, with thousands more people from the north heading to China.
Airport bosses say the facts bolster their calls for the government to prioritise more direct links to China to boost the northern economy.
It is two years since Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Manchester to announce the UK’s first direct flight to China outside London.
The new facts on its impact are found in a study by the economic consultancy Steer Davies Gleeve. As well as boosted exports, inward investment and more students, Chinese tour operators are now featuring the north much more in their offering – thanks in no small part to our historic and cultural draws, football prowess and shopping sites.
Dubbed the ‘China Dividend’, it’s predicted by researchers to grow even more in the coming years – boosting the region’s profile in Asia and strengthening ties.
It comes as a ministerial delegation heads to Shanghai to take part in a Northern Powerhouse Day at the China International Industry Fair – where the new report will be presented.
Led by Trade Minister Baroness Fairhead and Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry, their goal is to promote trade and investment.
The report concludes that major investment is needed to make the most of the boom. This includes, for example, cash to improve rail journeys between northern cities and Manchester Airport.
Lord Jim O’Neill, the economist who wrote the report’s foreword, said: “This is the first time that anyone has been able to pin-point so accurately the
benefits of long haul connectivity between two countries and this fascinating report shows that the upside is far wider than one may think.
“At the earliest opportunity further direct connectivity is needed in order for the UK to realise its ambition of China becoming one of its top three trading partners,”
“In particular, we need to make sure that all the key road and rail links function seamlessly to connect the airport to the key centres of population density around the rest of the North.”
Charlie Cornish, CEO of Manchester Airports Group, said: “This is the clearest evidence yet of how important international connectivity is to the growth ambitions of the North and UK as a whole.”
Jake Berry MP, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, added: “In just one year the Hainan route has brought such significant rewards to the Northern Powerhouse that I feel there is a real appetite in exploring launching airline routes from Manchester to other regions in China.
“As we head to Shanghai we will look to build on the flourishing commercial relationship that the UK and China have established, bringing with us Northern businesses which demonstrate the strengths and opportunities in the region.”