Atlantic City casinos need more Chinese visitors

They are coming by the tens of thousands. Even more are wanted. Chinese visitors are becoming such a key part of Atlantic City’s tourism industry that The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey held a special seminar on May 12 on ways local businesses can attract them.
Improving relations between the Chinese and U.S. governments, the growing wealth of Chinese citizens and the strong Chinese appetite for American goods are driving the tourism market, one expert says.
“I think there is interest from both the Chinese side and the American side,” said Ai Zhang, a Stockton communications professor who will host the seminar “The Competitive Edge: Attracting and Meeting the Needs of the Chinese Tourist.”
Zhang, a Chinese native who came to the United States in 2003 to pursue higher education, said each time she returns home, the Chinese enthusiastically ask her how they can arrange trips to America. She views the seminar as a bridge to connect the two countries.
“Globalization has become more important,” she said. “The Chinese want to learn more about American culture.”
Atlantic City’s casinos already cater to affluent Asian-American gamblers through an array of Asian-themed games, restaurants and decor. Overseas, the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau has become the world’s hottest casino market, eclipsing even Las Vegas in gaming revenue.
“Gambling is now very public in China,” Zhang said. “The Chinese want to enjoy places of interest. I think that by going to the gambling houses and the casinos, they can learn about American culture.”
The seminar provided an overview of what Chinese tourists are looking for when they visit the region. It also will examine key cultural differences, such as communication styles and spending habits.
With the Chinese economy now booming, an influx of wealthy Chinese visitors would be a welcome boost to Atlantic City’s sluggish market. Zhang said that in addition to casino gambling, Chinese tourists are particularly eager to spend their money on U.S. fashion and electronics.
“I think we need to take this time to attract people from China because of their strong economy,” she said. “In the United States, we are experiencing a financial crisis, so I think that bringing in more Chinese tourists is a way to help our economy.”
Mayor Lorenzo Langford has discussed the possibility of making a trade trip to China and Japan this month to generate more Asian business for Atlantic City. Sinova Consulting LLC, an Atlantic City-based firm, announced in March that it had reached an agreement with a tourism company in China that could bring 20,000 to 50,000 Asian visitors to the city this year.
The Stockton seminar was inspired by a story in The Press of Atlantic City about the Sinova deal, said Cynthia B. Sosnowski, the college’s executive director of continuing studies for health sciences and human services.
“We see this seminar as the first of a number of possible ways in which Stockton can work with the business community in expanding the Chinese and greater Asian market,” Sosnowski said in a statement. “Based on feedback on this seminar, we expect to develop additional programming and resources on the topic.”

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