Chinese actress Yong Mei is presented with an official certificate of appointment as Official Chinese Ambassador of Tourism in Edinburgh by Lord Provost of Edinburgh Frank Ross on Tuesday at the City Chambers. (Photo provided to China Daily)
The award-winning Chinese actress Yong Mei has been named official Chinese ambassador of tourism in Edinburgh, as Scotland steps up its efforts to promote itself in the world's largest outbound tourism market.
Yong Mei, whose television and film career spans more than two decades, won a best actress Silver Bear award this year at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival for her performance in the movie So Long, My Son.
The Edinburgh Tourism Action Group, which is also known as ETAG, unveiled her participation at a ceremony in Edinburgh City Chambers on Tuesday that was attended by Lord Provost of Edinburgh Frank Ross and Pan Xinchun, China's consul general.
Yong Mei is in Edinburgh with the Chinese online video-streaming platform iQiyito film three short travel features about the city. The series will showcase a range of locations and is likely to get millions of views when it is aired later this year.
Yong Mei said: "I am delighted to visit Edinburgh as the Chinese ambassador of tourism, and to discover more about the city. The unique history and culture of Edinburgh has always held a deep fascination for me. I am looking forward to promoting cultural exchanges between China and Scotland."
Robin Worsnop, chairman of ETAG, said: "Yong Mei is a well-respected, sophisticated actress. As such, she is a perfect fit for Edinburgh. There is a close alignment between Yong Mei and Edinburgh's profile as a cultural capital, a renowned film location and the world's most successful festival city."
He said her involvement is an example "of how Edinburgh businesses are working together through the China Ready Project to build Edinburgh's Chinese visitor market".
Ross, the city's lord provost, said: "As an award-winning actress, Ms Yong Mei is a fantastic fit for ETAG's leading role … As official tourism ambassador for Edinburgh and China, I'm looking forward to working with Ms Yong Mei and ETAG on further strengthening our city's strong ties with the people, businesses and investors of China."
Edinburgh is becoming an increasingly important film location. Following recent productions including Outlander and Avengers filming in the city, Ross said the city has "seen-on-screen" tourism appeal.
The number of Chinese tourists visiting Scotland has grown steadily during the past decade, and VisitBritain, the tourism body for the United Kingdom, expects a 22 percent year-on-year increase in Chinese visitor numbers to the UK this year.
Since 2011, there has been a 316 percent increase in visitor numbers from China to Scotland and VisitBritain predicts the number of Chinese visitors to the UK will increase quickly during the coming five years.
The number of Chinese visitors to Edinburgh is forecast to exceed 200,000 a year for the first time in 2019, with the potential to overtake the number of visitors from the United States by 2025.
Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said it is great to have such a prominent figure flying the flag for Edinburgh and Scotland in China.
"Yong Mei's appointment in China by ETAG is a great step in raising Scotland's profile with Chinese visitors," he said. "China has huge tourism potential for Scotland, with indications that it will grow further in the coming years, and we will continue to work with our Scottish industry partners to improve the visitor experience for Chinese travelers."