Direct Manchester-Beijing Flights Are Boosting the U.K.’s Northern Economy

(Bloomberg) -- The economy in England’s North is reaping the benefits of closer ties with China, two years after a direct flight first connected Manchester to Beijing.

Growth in trade and tourism is outstripping the U.K. average, according to a study by the consulting firm Steer. Chinese visitors to the North grew 38 percent since 2016, compared with 30 percent across the country, Manchester Airport said in a statement about the findings.

Visitors also began spending more. President Xi announced the Manchester-Beijing route during his state visit to the U.K. in October 2015 and Hainan Airlines began the service in June 2016. In those two years, the average spending per visit in the North West increased by 94 percent to over 2,000 pounds ($2,613), exceeding the national figure.

“We’ve really seen the success of the first route to China from Manchester Airport, so we hope to see more being added in the future,” Mayor Andy Burnham said in the statement. The study shows that “good connectivity is not just about getting people and products from A to B, but the wider impacts that they have on so many aspects of peoples’ lives at both ends of the route.”

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