Some British tourist attractions already have a widely accepted name in Chinese. Stonehenge is Ju Shi Zhen, the Giant Stone Arrangement. Then there's Da Ben Zhong, the Big Ben Clock, sometimes translated as the Big Silly Clock. ("Ben" in Chinese can sound like the word for stupid or silly.)
Yet there are plenty of British attractions that don't yet have names in Chinese, so national tourism agency VisitBritain, along with the Home Office, is launching a contest for people in China to pick some.
The list of locations and icons to be named includes the Loch Ness Monster, Sherwood Forest, Kensington Palace, the Beefeaters who guard the Tower of London, and the Temple Church that features in "The Da Vinci Code." The country is also seeking a translation for kilt, as well as the Welsh town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (that's not a typo.)
Ogilvy & Mather Beijing developed the campaign, Great Names for Great Britain, which is being promoted through online videos and is centered around social media sharing, a microsite and prizes. The campaign runs through April 2015.
Countries globally are trying to figure out how to lure China's exploding class of world travelers. This year, 116 million Chinese tourists are projected to travel outside their country, spending $155 billion, a 20% increase from last year, according to the China Tourism Academy. Chinese travelers are the No. 1 spenders in international tourism, with their consumption increasing about 10 times since 2000, according to the U.N.'s World Tourism Organization.
Britain has an opportunity to rise in the ranks as a destination for Chinese tourists – in 2013 it drew fewer of them than countries such as the U.S., France, Italy and Russia, according to the China National Tourism Administration.
In China, Britain is seen as a great place for well-off families to educate their children abroad. Some of its brand and cultural exports are quite popular here, from Burberry to Benedict Cumberbatch. "Sherlock" is a hit on online video services in China, where Mr. Cumberbatch's character and Dr. Watson have been affectionately dubbed Curly Fu and Peanut. (Fu is part of the Chinese name for Sherlock Holmes, and Watson sounds vaguely like the Chinese word for peanut.) Chinese consumers have also already come up with a nickname for British traditional specialties including haggis and stargazy pie, which is embedded with fish heads. They call it "gloomy cuisine."