Chinese tourists upset over ‘duty-free’ discrimination at London’s Heathrow Airport

Heathrow duty free Chinese discrimination is 'unacceptable'
Heathrow duty free Chinese discrimination is 'unacceptable'

Heathrow duty-free Chinese discrimination is ‘unacceptable’. Heathrow airport offers a duty-free discount on event run by commercial partner World Duty-Free which offers unequal rates to Chinese and non-Chinese customers at the weekend was “inadmissible”.

The ratio of discrimination is 1:4. Chinese travelers were asked to pay a minimum spend of £1,000 (S$1,831) to receive a 20 percent discount voucher for subsequent purchases, while other shoppers needed to spend only £250 to receive the same offer.

Heathrow duty free Chinese discrimination 'unacceptable'
Heathrow duty-free Chinese discrimination ‘unacceptable’

The unfair policy sparked outrage on social media after a Chinese student who worked at the store posted about it on China’s widely-used microblog platform Weibo on Sunday. The post has been viewed over 10 million times.

Britain’s busiest airport was targeted by a wave of anger from Chinese Internet users and denounced by state-run media “We hope that this matter can be dealt with appropriately and that no similar case would occur in the future. over allegations that Chinese consumers were being singled out and “ripped off”.

Many social media users showed their anger after this reveal of “discrimination’.

“Whatever happened is disgraceful and racial discrimination. You think Chinese are rich and stupid? I am so disappointed with Heathrow International Airport,” wrote Steven Li on Facebook.

Chinese tourists upset over 'duty-free' discrimination at London's Heathrow Airport
Chinese tourists upset over ‘duty-free’ discrimination at London’s Heathrow Airport

“Imagine if this was another race, this incident would have already been a huge talking point,”  another comment with 2,000 likes.

“Chinese people are not respected outside of the country,” added another user, while one asked, “Where do Chinese people go to get respect?”

Others linked the incident to the growing spending power of Chinese tourists.

“Chinese tourists have internationally become synonymous with the phrase ‘silly money,'” one user wrote. Other travelers responded with their experiences, some vowing not to shop at the airport again.

Airport’s officials and its commercial partner World Duty-Free showed their concern and issued the words.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We have been made aware of this offer which we find unacceptable.

“We are currently working with our commercial partner to understand how this happened and ensure it does not happen again.”

World Duty-Free posted online: “We are grateful for the comments shared on social media today regarding our VIP voucher scheme.

On Monday, World Duty-Free – one of the hundreds of independent stores at Heathrow – issued a statement on Weibo, saying that it had investigated and rectified the issue.

The company, which is headquartered in Bern, Switzerland, did not respond to requests from the China Daily newspaper for an explanation.

@Julialovekshwrote on Twitter:

@QianyunZhu_zqy tweeted:

Chinese tourists are increasingly seen as big spenders across the world.

The travelers accounted for a quarter of Heathrow’s duty-free sales in 2015, though they made up only one percent of passengers that year, according to travel website Mafengwo’s global travel shopping report.


During the October Golden Week travel period in 2017, Chinese tourists spent £29 million in shopping districts across the UK.

The number of Chinese visitors to the UK increased by 33 percent in 2017. They collectively spent £667 million, according to UK tourism authority Visit Britain.



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