A permanent air route to China is a step closer after the first flights from the Far East into Birmingham sold out.
The 248-seat, A330-200 aircraft will fly from Beijing on three dates between July 22 and August 6.
The service will be operated by Chinese travel company Caissa and its chief executive, Chen Xiaobing, said Birmingham was an "important tourist destination" for the superpower.
The flights will be the first direct routes to the UK from China to land outside of London, with almost 750 seats selling out quickly, suggesting an appetite to visit the city.
Experts believe the news presents a boost for longer-term plans, with Chinese tourists interested in destinations like Stratford-upon-Avon and the Cotswolds.
A Birmingham Airport spokesperson told the Post: "All the Beijing flights to Birmingham are sold.
"They are mostly package tour people but there are around 70 independent travellers on board too. Those on package tours will spend time touring the UK in a week and will include time in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Bicester Village and London."
The flights were made possible by the £40 million runway extension, bringing both the Far East and western parts of the US in reach.
Chinese trade expert Mike Loftus, director of News from the Future, said he believed there was a demand for more flights to the UK from China.
Mr Loftus, who previously worked for Locate in Birmingham and specialises in business in the Far East, believes the likes of Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and the soon-to-be-opened John Lewis could be among those to benefit.
"This is a really good start," he said.
"I was talking about this in China last November and there is a real appetite for tourist trips going to the UK and not enough capacity as I understand it.
"The few flights that there are, are limited but if the message gets out there to the Chinese travel market then the volumes of travellers will be great.
"They spend as much time north of Birmingham as south, so it make sense, and it is a real opportunity if they can stay in Birmingham for a few days while they are here."
The UK has missed out on China's mammoth tourism spend as a result of visa rules.
However, the Government announced last year that applications from the Far East would be simplified to encourage more tourism.
Mr Loftus added: "You have to be pretty well off to travel from China. It is probably costing £2,500 for each Chinese tourist.
"A lot of people have already done the tours of Europe but because of visa issues it has not been possible to come here.
"But when they travel they tend to come to shop. Certainly the retail offer in the city is as important as any other attraction."
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