TWIN beds instead of doubles, careful with those hand gestures and avoid anything to do with the number four.

From ensuring hot water and boiled rice is served at mealtimes to scrapping creamy dishes from the menu – the subtle nuances of Chinese customs, tastes and superstitions is now vital for Scottish businesses hoping to cash in on a Far East tourism boom.

Now hospitality, tourism and retail businesses across Scotland are set to receive priceless help in grasping the cultural challenges presented by soaring numbers of Chinese visitors, in the hope that the nation can capture a lucrative and growing new tourism market.

A ground-breaking programme originally launched in Edinburgh to prepare for Chinese sightseers, is now being expanded to help other Scottish cities roll out the red carpet.

According to Scottish Enterprise, which is adapting Edinburgh’s successful China Ready initiative for other locations starting with Greater Glasgow, evidence shows “the China syndrome” is seeping well beyond the capital.

“Glasgow businesses are saying they are starting to see incremental growth month-on-month from Chinese visitors and students coming to study,” says Sallyann Tindall, senior tourism project manager at Scottish Enterprise, adding that Dundee is also witnessing significant rise.

“There’s a real appetite among businesses to grow their Chinese market.” Edinburgh’s China Ready initiative, designed two years ago to provide a foundation in Chinese culture and customs for the city’s frontline tourism sector, has already seen many businesses introduce Chinese-friendly contactless payment systems and conquer welcoming Mandarin phrases.

As well as establishing a significant presence on Chinese social media channels, the Edinburgh initiative has offered hotels, restaurants and retailers tips on culture – such as paying particular respect towards the senior travellers in a Chinese party and providing complimentary toothbrushes in bedrooms.

Similar initiatives, including restaurant menu cards written in Mandarin, are planned for Glasgow.

Rob Lang, the Edinburgh Airport marketing executive and chairman of Edinburgh Tourist Action Group, which designed the China Ready initiative, says: “It’s about getting the basics right and small things that make a big difference. We want to make sure we don’t do anything to embarrass anyone. Something as simple as a Mandarin language map that’s easily available so tourists can walk about the city and understand what they are seeing, is important.”

A key area of focus for Edinburgh’s China Ready initiative has been establishing a presence on Chinese social media platforms, Weibo and WeChat. A Mandarin-speaker now regularly updates “Edinburgh Official” posts, while Chinese social media influencers and bloggers have been invited to sample Edinburgh hospitality.

To further boost its bid to be regarded as the UK’s friendliest destination for Chinese visitors, the city’s first full-scale Chinese New Year Festival will get under way today, involving a major cultural programme of arts and entertainment.

Several of the city’s landmark buildings, including Edinburgh Castle, the Balmoral Hotel,Camera Obscura and Harvey Nichols, will be bathed in red light throughout, while Chinese-themed events will be held at venues including the Usher Hall.

At the same time, Glasgow’s Princes Square is preparing to mark the Chinese New Year with Mandarin language signs, and events centred on a large Chinese-style pagoda in its courtyard. Red envelopes – a Chinese New Year tradition – are to be distributed by retailers.

The moves are designed to beef up Scots’ understanding of Chinese culture and are in response to tourism figures that show an almost six-fold increase in visitors since 2009. In 2017, there were 62,000 Chinese visitors – a rise of 51 per cent on the previous year – who spent a total of

£44 million. In the same year, Edinburgh Castle alone recorded 177,000 visitors who listed their point of origin as China.

It’s expected the figures for 2018 will be significantly higher following the launch of direct flights between Edinburgh and Beijing last summer. UK flight forecast figures for December 2018 to February 2019 currently predict a 19 per cent rise in Chinese visitors.

According to VisitScotland, Edinburgh is the second most visited city in the UK by Chinese tourists, bettered only by London.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, says: “China has huge tourism potential for Scotland, with indications that it will grow further in the coming years.”