A MANDOPOP celebrity singer and the chatelaine of Sudeley Castle don’t sound like an obvious pairing for a social visit but they’ve just spent time together for an unusual tourism drive.
Han Geng, China’s favourite award-winning artist and former frontman for the South Korean boy-band Super Junior-M, popped in to the stately home in Winchcombe while on a tour of Great Britain.
And Lady Ashcombe, owner of Sudeley Castle, gave him an exclusive private tour of the house and grounds.
Mr Geng is renowned for his love of travel and Chinese culture, marrying the two by visiting historical UK landmarks in the hope of encouraging his fellow countrymen to do the same.
Lady Ashcombe said she was ‘extremely excited’ to host the star.
"This year has been a successful year for Sudeley with visitor numbers up 12 per cent. Mr Han Geng’s visit to Sudeley brings to a head an extremely significant part of our international outreach this year.
"China is rapidly becoming a key market for us, and with the visit of such a top Chinese celebrity to Sudeley, we expect to see our international visitor numbers increase over the next few years.
"We have also made plans to launch a number of initiatives to enhance our welcome to the Chinese next year."
Last year, Chinese Nationals spent £65bn on 82 million trips overseas. A third of those visiting the UK say they want to visit a castle. Sudeley is making them feel welcome with the introduction of Mandarin-speaking tour guides.
A spokesperson for Tourism Alliance said: "The growth of this market has been nothing short of incredible, with the number of outbound travellers increasing by over 700 per cent since 2000. What makes this market even more attractive for the UK is the spending power of Chinese visitors.
"Chinese visitors to the UK spend £1,675 per visit meaning that every additional flight from China adds £1m to the UK economy and generates 20 full time jobs."
Lady Ashcombe added: "As a key tourism ambassador for China, and with years of travel experience in Britain, Mr Geng’s visit to Sudeley Castle not only showcases the enduring appeal of privately-owned historic houses, but will also further encourage more Chinese tourists to travel to the UK."