Category Archives: Illinois

“Real America” opens its doors to big spending Chinese tourists

They’ve walked the Golden Gate bridge, snapped pictures of the Statue of Liberty and fed the slots in Sin City. Now what?
As the number of Chinese visiting the United States skyrockets — it’s expected to jump 15 percent to 556,000 this year and exceed 800,000 by 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce — it’s not just the tried and true destinations of California, Las Vegas, Hawaii and New York that are welcoming the tour busses. Despite budget cuts, state tourism boards across the country are making an eager push to woo Chinese tourists, rolling out lists of initiatives to show these savvy travelers why their corners of the map deserve a visit.
Kevin Langston, deputy commissioner of the tourism division at the Georgia Department of Economic Development, says that while Chinese travelers often choose to see iconic U.S. landmarks on their first visit to the States, they also want a close-up view of Americana, the county fairs and the corner drug stores. “Our greatest opportunity in Georgia is that second or third trip when they want to see how real Americans live and gain a deeper understanding of a unique region of the country, like the American South,” Langston says.

To introduce Chinese travelers to the Peach State, department staff members have attended travel trade shows in China, led the Chinese Travel Channel on a two-week media tour and created a Georgia tourism website in Mandarin. They’re now hoping to promote Georgia through social media platforms, for instance, by having Chinese students blog about the state.
Other states are also luring Chinese travelers westward. The Vermont Chamber of Commerce brought over a television production crew from Shanghai to film a travel documentary on the northeastern state. The tourism bureaus of Illinois and Chicago have partnered with United Airlines and select tour operators to promote Chicago Month, which features special travel packages from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The Greater Miami tourism bureau has led delegations of Chinese tourism directors on bus trips from Orlando to Miami.

For many states, it seems as though the efforts are paying off. In Salt Lake City’s Temple Square, mainland China tops its list for group tours.
“We may not be as well known as New York City or San Francisco, but the unexpected beauty and the solitary experience that you can get in our national parks is new and very interesting to Chinese visitors,” says Leigh von der Esch, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism.
Jennifer Hobson, ecotourism director of the New Mexico Tourism Department, agrees that Chinese travelers are looking for activities and attractions they can’t find in their home country. When she attended Shanghai’s China International Travel Mart, a travel trade show, people were drawn to the unexpected sights in her small booth — a Native American man with long hair and some turquoise jewelry.
“The Chinese are just fascinated by the cowboy and Indian culture,” Hobson said. “When they see the pictures of the Wild West, they want to go.”
The hope is that these initiatives will translate into dollars for state tourism, convention and visitor bureaus, which have been slapped with budget cuts in recent years.

According to the UN World Tourism Organization, there will be 100 million Chinese international travelers by 2020. Chinese travelers spend more than their counterparts in any other country — about $7,200 per person per trip, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. This month, President Obama signed the Travel Promotion Act, which will establish a national tourism board to encourage foreigners to visit the United States.
In April, the National Tour Association will open a Visit USA Center in Shanghai. The center will provide information on travel tour packages, destinations and tour operators, and will offer a facility for U.S. companies to use when in Shanghai to expand travel and tourism business opportunities.

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American Airlines targets affluent Chinese travelers

Our blog has had the pleasure to obtain an exclusive interview from Mr Victor Lee, American Airlines Greater China’s Regional Director, based in Shanghai. As the United States are one of the favorite destination of the Chinese travelers for both business and leisure, we wanted to know more about the strategy of American Airlines in China.

Since  April 2006, American Airlines operates a daily flight from Shanghai Pudong to Chicago O’Hare. In 2010, a new flight route will be open from Beijng to Chicago, to give more options to the Chinese travelers.

“The expansion of our network to China is a profoundly significant event that strengthens American as a global competitor and further enhances Chicago as one of the nation’s foremost international gateways,” said Mr Victor Lee. “With daily nonstop service between Chicago and Shanghai, China’s largest and most dynamic business center, we will provide broad new access to China for tens of thousands of passengers and shippers in cities large and small, stimulating the market and building strong new commercial and cultural ties between our two countries.” Mr Lee added.

For now, the main part of the Chinese travelers from Shanghai were business travelers, but, with the new recent US visa policy opening the doors to Chinese tourists groups, and the number of rich Chinese citizens in Shanghai, American Airlines is expecting a fast growing on this flight route, specially for the First and Business class Chinese travelers.

American Airlines operates the Shanghai flight using 245-seat Boeing 777-200 aircraft, the largest in American’s fleet. In First Class, the 777 features 16 Flagship Suite seats that transform into a fully flat six-foot, six-inch bed with drop-down armrests that allow for easier access and more sleeping space.

The new  Business Class offers ergonomically-advanced seat design. The new, highly adjustable, lie-flat seat allows passengers to customize the setting to their personal preference. Business Class Chinese passengers also will have convenient access to a number of amenities, including gourmet food, in-flight entertainment and power ports in every seat.

“American Airlines wants simply to offer the best service between China and the US”, said Mr Lee.

According to China Elite Focus analysts, it is crucial for the airlines to market their brand in China as luxury brands rather than to try to be the cheapest airline. American Airlines has choosen the appropriate strategy when they insist on the quality of their service and want to be seen by the Chinese travelers as a luxury brand among the other airlines.

Also, American Airlines has partnerships in the US with  more than one thousand hotels, resorts that gives to Chinese travelers a wide choice of business and leisure destinations in the US.

Interview conducted in Shanghai by Pierre Gervois, China Elite Focus Managing Partner & CEO, for the blog “Chinese tourists in America”

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