Europe continues to be the favourite destination for Chinese tourists despite the relative slow-down in the economy in China and concerns about Brexit.

New data shows a 5.1% year-on-year increase in Chinese arrivals in EU destinations last year.

The latest figures come from the European Travel Commission (ETC) in collaboration with air travel analyst ForwardKeys, which monitors 17 million flight bookings a day.

The top three EU destinations for Chinese arrivals were the UK, up 2.4%; Germany, up 2.6%; and France, up 7.7%.

But if the UK was excluded from the 2018 data, the performance of the EU would look even stronger, with arrivals up 5.8%, as opposed to up 5.1% with the UK included.

Similarly, looking ahead, forward bookings are 17.7% ahead for the period January-April 2019, as opposed to 16.9% with the UK included, suggesting some impact from Brexit uncertainty.

Chinese bookings to the EU for the first four months of 2019 are 16.9% ahead of where they were at the end of 2017. This compares to the global trend, which is 9.3% ahead.

The growth demonstrates that the EU-China Tourism Year 2018, designed to promote the EU as a tourism destination to the rapidly-growing Chinese market, continues to deliver success, according to the ETC

Executive director Eduardo Santander said: “The 2018 EU-China Tourism Year initiative has been extremely successful. And we continue to see the benefits in 2019.

“The growth in Chinese travellers has been solid, and the near future, judging by current bookings, will see the EU continuing to increase its share of this valuable market, not just to traditional destinations, but lesser-known and emerging ones as well.”

ForwardKeys CEO Olivier Jager added: “Our findings confirm what a concerted effort to boost tourism can achieve. It also appears to have lasting effects, as we can see in the forward booking figures.”