Chinese crave Crown Jewels and Hogwarts, but swerve the seaside chippies

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Chinese tourists visiting Britain come for the royals, Harry Potter and Premier League football, but sidestep seaside fish and chips, a Visit Britain report has suggested.

More than 250,000 holidaymakers from China spent more than half a billion pounds in the UK last year and these figures are expected to grow sharply fuelled by growing middle and affluent classes.

The report said Chinese tourists rate Britain highly for both its heritage and contemporary culture with a particular focus on museums and films.

It said: "They are mostly interested in symbolic elements: the Royal Family, Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter and Downton Abbey.

"The Chinese outbound market is booming: visits abroad more than doubled in five years, from about 41m overnight stays in 2011 to 85m in 2016. By 2020, it is forecast to exceed 110m trips overseas."

The analysis also looks at sought-after activities among the Chinese - the most valuable market for international tourism expenditure.

Buckingham Palace tops the list, with 35% of those surveyed saying it was on their to-do list, followed by Chatsworth House (31%) and Edinburgh Castle (23%).

Also featuring were attractions giving a bird's eye view of the capital - the Shard and London Eye - while 14% said they would like to go to a Premier League football match.

Less than one in 10 said they would have fish and chips at the seaside, despite more Chinese people developing the so-called "Western palate", the report said.

It added: "(They) might appreciate wine, whisky and other western spirits, cheese, dairy products, dessert etc. However, many Chinese tourists will recourse to familiar Chinese food once in a while, if not often."

Other figures revealed in the report by the UK tourism agency show London was the most popular destination for Chinese tourists, with an annual average of 144,000 between 2004 and 2016, compared with 238,000 in Scotland and 35,000 in Edinburgh.

Manchester (23,000), Cambridge (14,000) and Oxford (13,000) were other hotspots for tourists.

While many Chinese visitors felt they had a warm welcome to the UK - 32% saying they felt extremely welcome and 43% saying they felt very welcome - those in the travel sector were advised to dial down the affection.

The report said: "Kissing and hugging are not a common form of greeting with the Chinese. Many of them would feel embarrassed, and so it is best to avoid it."