Big Ben. Tower Bridge. Stonehenge. All iconic British landmarks – tourist destinations famed the world over.
Now there’s a new one to add to the list. Scotts Fish and Chips restaurant. You haven’t heard of it? Well, you’ll find it south of the ancient city of York. And while, for now, it might not feature in the international tourist guides, Scotts is proving to be a big hit with Chinese visitors to the UK.
And here’s why.
In 2015, fish and chips was on the menu when the country’s then-Prime Minister David Cameron took Chinese President Xi Jinping to a pub. The venue for their informal supper was a pub in the Buckinghamshire village of Cadsden called the Plough, which was once a staging post for coaches on the road to and from London, when it was built in the 16th century.
Captured on video and broadcast by much of the world’s media, the meeting became a viral sensation. Keen to try the British delicacy for themselves, thousands of Chinese visitors to the UK have been enthusiastic about trying it out. Equally keen to make the most of the opportunity, Scotts translated its menus into Mandarin and has been promoting itself via Chinese social media.
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With space for up to 110 customers, Scotts’ location on the main road to York is a key contributor to its appeal to Chinese tourists. The city’s history stretches back over 1,000 years. It’s a former Roman, Anglo-Saxon, and Viking settlement, with a stunning cathedral and cobbled streets. Not surprisingly, York attracts a lot of tourists – almost 7 million each year, according to the local tourism authority.
"Most of the Chinese tour groups will visit London, Cambridge and then to York and on their way to York they will pass the A64, so this is an ideal location for the coach to park up,” Will Zhuang, ambassador for the Make It York tourist organization told the BBC.
Meanwhile, in the village of Cadsden, the Plough has also benefited from an influx of Chinese tourists and was bought in 2016 by a Chinese investment company, SinoFortone.
Discussions between China and the UK on future trade and investment deals have been a priority for successive British prime ministers. But against a backdrop of intense change and growing instability, around Brexit as well as US-imposed trade tariffs on China, this relationship is becoming increasingly significant.