Category Archives: USA

From complimentary Chinese tea to social media marketing, U.S. hotels try hard to entice more Chinese guests

Major hotel brands are bending over backward to cater to the needs of the world’s most sought-after traveler: the Chinese tourist.
Now arriving on American shores in unprecedented numbers thanks to a streamlined visa process and a rising Chinese middle class, Chinese tourists are being treated to the comforts of home when they check in at the front desk. That means tea in rooms, congee for breakfast and Mandarin-speaking hotel employees.
Chinese “welcome programs” at chains like the Marriott and Hilton even address delicate cultural differences: No Chinese tour group should be placed on a floor containing the number four, which sounds like the word for death in Mandarin.
“They’re very relieved, like finally somebody’s doing these things that make sense,” said Robert Armstrong, a sales manager who handles bookings for Chinese travelers at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.
More than a million Chinese visited the US in 2011, contributing more than US$5.7 billion ($7.2 billion) to the economy. That’s up 36 per cent from 2010, according to the Department of Commerce. By 2016, that figure is expected to reach 2.6 million Chinese.
In a striking departure from the traditional Chinese business traveler, a growing number of them are coming to America for fun – with lots of cash. (The average Chinese visitor spends more than US$6000 per trip.)
 “Chinese Social Media networks are very important to help Chinese travelers to choose their hotel in the U.S.” said Pierre Gervois, Chief Executive Officer of China Elite Focus, a digital marketing agency based in Shanghai and Hong Kong. “New social media networks focused about travel in the United States have emerged last year, and are now very popular, such as Luxury Hotels of America (美国奢侈酒店), or Niuyue Mag (纽约志), and VIP Golf USA (美国VIP贵宾高尔夫). These social media networks allow Chinese travelers to ask for advice to other Chinese tourists coming back from the U.S., and also to rate hotels, golf courses, and retail stores. They are much more influent than travel agencies.”
And so hotels are competing to win the hearts of the Chinese. That may take the form of slippers and a tea kettle in the room or a Mandarin-speaking employee at the front desk.
“They drink tea. Eastern style, everything cold,” explained Charlie Shao, president of Galaxy Tours, a New York City-based Chinese tour agency. “They don’t walk inside the room with bare feet.”
It’s rare that Shao has to ask hotels for anything anymore. Marriott International, for example, now offers several Chinese breakfasts, depending upon which region of China the traveler hails from: there are salted duck eggs and pickled vegetables for eastern Chinese, for example, and dim sum and sliced pig’s liver for the Advertisement Tower - Gervois Hotel Rating May 2017 featuring Pierre Gervoissoutherners.
Major chains are also training employees to avoid cultural missteps that would offend a Chinese visitor. Superstition is a big one: Red is considered a lucky colour, along with the number eight, which signifies wealth. The colour white, meanwhile, is frowned upon.
Failing to respect the pecking order in a Chinese group is another common blunder.
“We try to make sure nobody’s on a higher floor than their boss,” Armstrong said. “Even if the boss is on a beautiful suite on the eighth floor, if the assistant is in a standard room on the 38th floor, it doesn’t translate.”
The race is also on to build loyalty within China’s borders. Last year, Starwood Hotels, which has a Chinese “specialist” at each American hotel, relocated its senior leadership team to China for a month. The Ritz-Carlton rotates general managers and other hotel staff into its Chinese hotels for three-year stints at a time. And both chains are banking on the success of their customer rewards programs, which have been a big hit in China.
“It’s important for our leaders to understand what’s going on there at a more personal level than just the statistics,” said Clayton Ruebensaal, vice president of marketing for the Ritz. “Everybody’s going after this market because of the sheer volume of luxury customers. At the same time, it’s a very crowded landscape.
In response to the surge in Chinese visitors, the State Department decided earlier this year to spend US$22 million on new facilities in several Chinese cities and add about 50 officers to process visa applications. And in February, the US government said Chinese visitors who had obtained an American visa within the last four years did not have to reapply in person but could apply via courier.
As a result, visa interview wait times in China are just under a week.
 But some experts say the US still lags far behind other countries, especially in Europe, when it comes to attracting Chinese tourists. America is woefully ill-prepared to welcome China at an industry-wide level, especially at restaurants and major attractions, said Rich Harrill, director of the Sloan Foundation Travel & Tourism Industry Centre at the University of South Carolina.
“We’re not as ready as we should be,” Harrill said.
“We don’t have the language skills. We have an opportunity to be on the ground floor of something that could be very, very big.”

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Wealthy Chinese buy cash U.S. houses

China’s rich people everywhere to buy a house in the world is not something new, near New York’s Long Island has become an extremely attractive to Chinese buyers eye, already circulating in the New York real estate agent if the buyer is the Chinese people, which transactions is certainly no problem to say. New York and even the nation’s real estate market in recent years has been stagnant, the Americans lending capacity is also getting worse, turned out to Chinese buyers at this time, New York real estate brokerage lifted from China in January, a buyer bought a value of $ 12 million mansion on Long Island, and to draw up the contract within 12 days and paid in cash, real estate broker in charge of the deal Dalia said she Although surprised but also think that is reasonable, because in the past two years, she has more and more exposure to overseas buyers from China, she also said that in 4-5 years ago, Chinese buyers are usually looking for Chinese real estate Business buy a house, she met directly with the translation to come to the U.S. real estate direct purchase customers.
Engaged in real estate transactions lawyer also said the general to buy a house rich in China is divided into two categories, one is the investment in children’s education, a class of investment real estate, whether tourists or buy a house off from China and lavish features have been astounding, the Chinese people to become the first in the world in the global luxury goods purchasing power, also emerge in the world real estate, so that we can not help but think that the next buy, what is it.

U.S. Chinese Liu Shuo, TV reports

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Chinese want to buy more Private Jets in the U.S.

The demand for long-range private jets is increasing in China, as wealthy Chinese individuals are looking for aircrafts able to go directly to New York City or Las Vegas from any airport in China. According to Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus, the leading PR agency focused on HNWI Chinese consumers “The new generation of Chinese wealthy individuals considers the acquisition of a private aircraft as the ultimate symbol of success. For instance, we know that very private VIP clubs such as the Shanghai Travelers’ Club have already organized trips to the United States with the specific purpose of buying pre-owned private jets in the U.S.”

As many Chinese private jet future owners consider that buying a pre-owned or a new aircraft in the U.S. is the best way to ensure the best quality and perfect maintenance, there is a major opportunity for the U.S. business jets industry, or foreign aircraft manufacturers operating from the U.S. and targeting new Chinese customers, such as Dassault Falcon.

Dassault Falcon will set up a new operation in Shanghai to help support its rapidly growing Chinese fleet. The new entity, to be known as Dassault Falcon Aircraft Services – China, will be established by the end of the second quarter of 2012 in partnership with Shanghai Hawker Pacific and will be located within the Shanghai Hawker Pacific complex at Shanghai’s Hongqiao International Airport.

Dassault Falcon Aircraft Services – China will play a key role in ensuring first-class support for the Falcon fleet that is expected to triple by the end of 2012. The unit will be staffed by a team of technicians with an average experience of more than 10 years with Falcon business jets specially trained on Falcon 7X, Falcon 2000LX and Falcon 900LX models. Line maintenance, AOG support, troubleshooting and component replacement will be among the services offered.

Dassault Falcon Aircraft Services – China will bring extensive, hands-on Falcon maintenance to the world-class Shanghai Hawker Pacific’s facilities that support local and transient Falcon aircraft, while providing an opportunity to transfer technical maintenance know-how to Chinese engineers in this developing market.

“This facility in Shanghai is an essential part of our strategy to support our growing market share in China,” said John Rosanvallon, President and CEO of Dassault Falcon. “Our customers will appreciate the instant increase in the level of Falcon maintenance experience that this program will offer, as well as the dedication that only Dassault as the aircraft manufacturer can provide.”

The Shanghai Hawker Pacific complex features a 4,000 sq m facility for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), in addition to its fixe based operations (FBO) capabilities. It was the first third-party MRO facility in mainland China and is a joint partnership with the Shanghai Airports Authority.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) recently granted a Part 145 repair certificate for the facility as well as a Part 145 approval for the Falcon 7X. Approvals for the Falcon 900LX and Falcon 2000LX models are expected within six months.

“Dassault Falcon and Shanghai Hawker Pacific have a shared vision of providing the best customer service experience in China,” said John Riggir, Vice President-Asia for Hawker Pacific. “We have the facilities, dedication and infrastructure to meet our customers’ needs today and into the future. The Dassault team will bring a more advanced business aircraft MRO experience to complement and rapidly grow the capabilities of Shanghai Hawker Pacific as China absorbs this fleet of new Falcons.”

In addition to this new facility in Shanghai, Falcon customers can access repair facilities operated by Hawker Pacific in Singapore and Sydney, Australia and Jet Aviation in Hong Kong.

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Will Chinese tourists save the American economy?

With easing travel restrictions and growing spending power, American politicians and businesspeople look to the increasing number of Chinese travelers to speed economic recovery.
Amid the commotion of shuffling lines and muffled voices, Tina Tian sits in disbelief outside the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Her head hung low, Tian’s phone rings. She answers her father’s call with a sigh of resignation.   

Five years later, Tian still remembers the disappointment of being denied an entry visa to visit the United States.
“I want to visit America because it is a superpower,” Tian says, now a recent college graduate from Sichuan University. Despite being denied a visa twice, Tian remains determined. “I am a big Lakers fan, I watch Gossip Girls and love to drink Starbucks. My daily life is very influenced by the United States and that is why I want to visit.”
Though Tian has yet to make the trip, Chinese travelers are landing at U.S. airports in record numbers. In 2011, over one million travelers from the Mainland arrived in the U.S., with hundreds of thousands more pouring in from Taiwan and Hong Kong. With expanding incomes and an eagerness to venture abroad, American politicians and businesses are lining up to greet Chinese tourists at the gates.
Speaking at Disney World in February, President Obama announced his vision to expand international tourism as a means to economic recovery.

“Every year, tens of millions of tourists from all over the world come and visit America,” Obama said. “And the more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work.” With the Department of Commerce estimating that Chinese and Brazilian travelers spend an average of $6,000 per visit, ensuring the U.S. is a top travel destination is more national priority than marketing material.
For Tian, that means the third time may be a charm. Obama’s plan included several steps for increasing access to the U.S., including simplifying and accelerating non-immigrant visa processes, making the Global Entry Program permanent and nominating Taiwan to the Visa Waiver Program. The bottom line for the President’s push?
“We need to help businesses all across the country grow and create jobs; compete and win.”
The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that arrivals from China will increase by approximately 274% between 2012 and 2016. Last year, arrivals from China were estimated at 1,098,000 and 294,000 from Taiwan. If Taiwan is accepted into the visa waiver program, numbers are expected to rise even more as citizens would be eligible to travel to U.S. territories for 90 days without a visa.
With that number expected to top 3 million visitors from China by 2016, American businesses are preparing for their arrival in a big way.
“The number one reason Chinese tourists come to the U.S. is for shopping,” says Pierre Gervois, President and CEO of China Elite Focus, an agency specializing in wealthy Chinese outbound tourism.
This statement holds true as Chinese travelers spent $7.2 billion abroad on luxury goods, a 29% increase from the $5.6 billion last year just during the weeklong Spring Festival holiday.

Advertisement Tower - Gervois Hotel Rating May 2017 featuring Pierre Gervois“The second reason,” Gervois continues, “is that the U.S. is well known for their movie stars and Hollywood scenes and they want to do a lot of sight seeing.”
Carol Martinez, spokesperson from the Los Angeles Convention and Visitor Authority, concurs as she says that significant focus is put on accommodating outbound Chinese tourists through measures like setting up Chinese boarding services at major attraction sites. Martinez highlights that the California Travel and Tourism Commission opened tourism promotion offices in Shanghai and Beijing.
Another compelling reason: travel to the U.S. can act as a social status marker for Chinese and Taiwanese.
“If you can afford to visit and purchase many goods from the U.S., it makes a statement that you are living a good life,” says Nancy Cheng, a Taiwan native.
In 2003, the U.S. opened the Group Visa Program for Chinese travelers, making it far easier for large tour groups, athletic teams, and entertainment groups to enter the country. The most important trend, however, is that visitors from China are beginning to travel independently. Cheng notes this phenomenon as, “a perfect example of xuan fu, which means to show off your wealth.”
“The second wave of China’s outbound tourism has started, with more self-organized travelers slowing down and spreading further afield,” says Dr. Georg Wolfgang, Director of the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute. “Increasingly travel-savvy and globally connected, below 45 years and green, the new Chinese tourist is arriving in exotic locations and staying for more than just a snapshot.”
These “new” Chinese tourists are setting a new standard for Chinese outbound tourism and are eager to explore forms of non-traditional tourism.
Ecotourism, increasingly popular with Western tourists, is also catching on with Chinese. The emphasis of nature immersion and outdoor adventures in locations such as Hawaii and Alaska is becoming more appealing as some Chinese look to escape from the hardships of modern urban living.
Mike McCartney, president of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), forecasts that the number of Chinese visitors to Hawaii will increase annually by 20% from 2012 to 2014, with those who visit consisting largely of young affluent individuals. For this reason, outdoors activities such as golfing, boating, yachting and surfing are being promoted and emphasized in their marketing efforts.
“Mass tourists will stay on the beaten track, but new Chinese tourists can be attracted to lesser known places if they are provided with a good reason to go there which translates again into prestige,” Wolfgang says. “Connecting destinations with the history of overseas Chinese living in that area might also be a good starting point.”

The exponential rise in Chinese tourists has also positively affected the EB-5 and the proposed EB-6 Visa programs. Intended to attract foreign investors, the EB-5 visa program provides foreign nationals a way to gain a green card for a minimum of $500,000 investment for a targeted employment area within the U.S. The program has created 31,000 jobs and has attracted over $1.5 billion in investments through mainly private companies since its inception. With a surge of Chinese tourists in the U.S., hopes are that the number of applicants for the EB-5 and EB-6 programs will also increase.

While statistics rise for conventional tourist arrivals, there has been a parallel spike in other “grey” forms of travel.  “Birth tourism,” as it has been labeled, sees wealthy pregnant women travel to birth their babies in foreign countries. Potentially living in the country for months before delivery, babies birthed in the U.S. provide two benefits as seen by these Chinese parents: instant U.S. citizenship and a way around China’s pesky one-child policy.
China has already overtaken Italy, Japan, France and the United Kingdom in terms of international tourist spending. In 2010, the average travel spending per Chinese visitor to the U.S. was at $6,243 followed by India at $6,131 and Brazil at $4,940, while European countries peaked at $3,132. The flood of Chinese outbound tourists offers an obvious potential cash flow. With President Obama acknowledging the need to facilitate travel, the U.S. can anticipate more Chinese tourists in more places across the country.
“The primary motivation to travel to the U.S., besides business and visiting friends and relatives, is to gain prestige and to learn,” Wolfgang notes. “To attract Chinese visitors, these two aspects have to be emphasized, ‘Be the most famous, oldest, greatest in your field and provide a mix of entertainment and education.’”
It should only be a matter of time before Tian is sipping Starbucks at her first Lakers game.

Article by Chia-Ling Melody Yuan


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President Obama’s travel initiative will increase the number of affluent Chinese tourists spending money in the U.S

Acknowledging the prominent role of the travel and tourism sector in creating jobs and powering the economy, President Obama announced that he has issued an Executive Order aimed at boosting travel and tourism during an event in Orlando, Fla.

The President announced an initiative focusing on improving travel facilitation by coordinating activity among the Department of Commerce, Department of State, and Department of Homeland Security. To achieve this, the President has directed the Department of Commerce to create a task force to develop a “National Travel & Tourism Strategy.” The task force will coordinate cross-departmental efforts and ensure private sector participation.

To increase international tourism to the United States, President Obama recommends promoting unique U.S. destinations/experiences, reducing wait times for visas in rapid-growth countries such as China and Brazil, and making the U.S. Global Entry program permanent.

In remarks, the President stated, “Every year, tens of millions of tourists from all over the world come and visit America. And the more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work. We need to help businesses all across the country grow and create jobs; compete and win. That’s how we’re going to rebuild an economy where hard work pays off, where responsibility is rewarded, and where anyone can make it if they try.”

“I was honored to stand with the President in Orlando as he announced that travel and tourism will be a national priority,” said AH&LA President/CEO Joe McInerney. “Travel and tourism is among the nation’s largest employers and a top ten industry in 48 states – so this effort will benefit every community. By focusing on these high-growth sectors, the United States is poised to create jobs and strengthen the economy.”

Many of the priorities highlighted by the President today are shared by the AH&LA co-chaired Discover America Partnership (DAP). DAP is a lobbying and grassroots campaign working to advance visa and entry reforms in order to regain the share of the international traveler market the United States held in 2000. By recapturing America’s historic share of international travel, the U.S. could create up to 1.3 million new U.S. jobs by 2020 and produce $859 billion in cumulative additional economic output.

“While working with the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB), we reported that tourism is a low-cost/high-reward prospect and one of the few industries showing positive growth,” said Nancy Johnson, AH&LA chair and executive vice president, development, Carlson Hotels, America. “Promoting travel produces a multiplier effect that benefits all industries and TTAB estimates we could add 500,000 new U.S. jobs by 2015 with no cost to tax payers. We commend the President for taking this positive step forward.”

“President Obama’s travel initiative will certainly help the U.S. hospitality industry to acquire more affluent Chinese travelers and create more jobs in luxury retail, golf industry, and shopping centers”, said Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus, member of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. “In cities like New York City, hotels and retailers are now taking initiatives to attract the wealthy segment of Chinese customers, even before they arrive in the country, when they are still in China, planning their shopping trip to the U.S.”

Promoting travel and tourism remains one of AH&LA’s highest priorities. AH&LA and the Discover America Partnership will continue to work closely with Members of Congress, the Administration, and governmental agencies to highlight the incredible opportunity presented by bringing more international travelers to United States.

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U.S. Travel Association applauds Congress for U.S. Visa System and traveler facilitation reforms for Chinese tourists

The U.S. Travel industry worked with Congressional appropriators to secure significant victories related to U.S. visa system and traveler facilitation reforms in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012. The legislation reflects 2011 advocacy efforts by the U.S. Travel Association to improve the U.S. economy, remove barriers to travel and improve the travel process.

The U.S. Travel industry worked with Congressional appropriators to secure significant victories related to U.S. visa system and traveler facilitation reforms in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012. The legislation reflects 2011 advocacy efforts by the U.S. Travel Association to improve the U.S. economy, remove barriers to travel and improve the travel process.

“This legislation is an acknowledgment by Congress that reforms to the U.S. visa and entry systems and passenger screening process are key to improving our nation’s economy,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “Clearly, the travel community is being heard, and we applaud Congress for addressing these issues.”

“The extended visa expiration period for affluent Chinese tourists doing frequent luxury shopping tours to the U.S. is an excellent news for the U.S. luxury retail industry” said Pierre Gervois, an expert in marketing to wealthy Chinese outbound tourists and member of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. “That will mean more wealthy Chinese customers spending more money in U.S. luxury shopping malls and flagship stores, and creating more american jobs in the luxury retail industry”

U.S. VISA SYSTEM REFORM – The Act mirrors a number of recommendations put forth by the U.S. Travel Association in a May 2011 report on the U.S. visa system. That report identified visa wait times, visa validity periods and videoconferencing technology as keys to improving a system that cannot meet demand in emerging economies with growing markets of international travelers.

Initiatives championed by U.S. Travel and included in the consular affairs section of the bill include:
Visa Wait Time Reductions – To reduce the number of days applicants must wait before their visa application interview, the bill directs the Secretary of State to hire a sufficient number of consular officers, including limited non-career appointment (LNA) officers, in China, Brazil and India. These LNA officers will give the State Department hiring flexibility to meet increasing visa demand in the coming years.
Better Metrics and Long-Term Planning – Congress directs the Secretary of State to report on the steps it will take to reduce current visa processing wait times but also to submit a 5-year forecast of visa demand in Brazil, China and India. The plan should outline the number of consular officers necessary to meet the Department’s 30 day visa processing standard. Congress also directs the State Department to compare its forecast with the Commerce Department’s visitor projections in order to allow it to produce better long-term plans.
Extended Visa Expiration Period – A plan must be developed by the State Department to extend expiration periods for leisure or business visas that require a consular officer interview. The visa validity period for Chinese citizens is only one year, and U.S. Travel has recommended extending the visa validity period to five or 10 years, common with other countries, so business and leisure travelers do not have to undergo the visa renewal process annually and State can better meet demand of new applicants in China.
Secure Videoconferencing Technology – Congress has cleared the Secretary of State to develop and conduct a pilot program to conduct visa interviews for leisure and business visas using secure remote videoconferencing technology. With limited consular offices in emerging economies such as Brazil, China and India, the addition of remote secure videoconferencing would allow more citizens to apply for U.S. visas.
U.S. ENTRY & EXIT SYSTEM REFORM – The Act includes a number of significant improvements to the entry and exit process at U.S. air and land ports of entry.
Increased Staffing – The bill provides funding to hire an additional 300 new Customs and Border Protection Officers to improve processing of inbound travelers at land border crossings and international U.S. airports.
More Oversight of Operations – The bill requires CBP to report to the Congress on its long-term staffing plans and implementation of key entry reforms such as trusted traveler programs and elimination of unnecessary rescreening of international travelers and baggage.
Air Exit System – The bill provides $9.4 million to the development of a comprehensive plan for enhancements of a biographic air exit program to bolster security and allow for further expansion of the Visa Waiver Program.
DOMESTIC AVIATION FACILITATION REFORM – The Act makes a series of recommendations designed to improve the efficiency of traveler facilitation including:
Congressional Reports on Efficiency – TSA must submit to Congress reports on passenger and baggage screening efficiency and on how its workforce is being deployed at the nation’s airports to maintain average wait times below 10 minutes. As a recent U.S. Travel survey showed, an overwhelming majority of passengers are frustrated with screening checkpoints. The bill also encourages TSA to utilize privatized screening where more cost-effective.
Trusted Traveler – To help implement recommendations akin the U.S. Travel Blue Ribbon Panel on Aviation Security, the bill provides TSA $10M to implement risk-based screening and to expand known-traveler populations beyond the current PreCheck program.

In 2012, the U.S. Travel Association will pursue policies on behalf of the travel industry, many of which will create much-needed U.S. jobs and improve the economy. These include legislative vehicles for additional visa system reform, expanding the Visa Waiver Program, enhancing the entry process at ports of entry, and improving the efficiency of the U.S. air travel system.

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U.S. hotels welcome Chinese business travelers

Earlier this year, some 14,000 members of Amway China arrived in waves of 2,800 each for a series of meetings in Anaheim, Calif. — just one example, travel industry professionals say, of a growing number of Chinese business travelers flocking to the United States to meet with potential customers, study American business practices and attend conferences and trade shows.
In response, major hotel brands are starting programs to compete for the Chinese business. They are updating menus, hiring bilingual people for their staffs and even offering access to Chinese television stations, anticipating that the number of Chinese visitors will continue to grow in coming years.
“We see that in the past five years it’s grown rapidly,” said Yong Guo, president of the North America Chinese Entrepreneur Association. “You can see it from the travel volume, especially in the summertime. You can see it in the ticket prices.”

Mr. Guo said Chinese business travelers from diverse industries including pharmaceuticals, software development and green technology had contacted him and asked for introductions to potential partners. His member base of Chinese-American entrepreneurs has tripled in five years, he said.
In fiscal year 2010, the State Department issued nearly half a million visas to mainland-born Chinese nationals coming to the United States either for business or for a combination of business and pleasure, despite what can be an expensive, months-long process to obtain a visa. The Office of Travel and Tourism Industries said it expected a 232 percent increase in Chinese visitors over the next five years.
Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide and Starwood Hotels and Resorts are among the hotel management companies that are starting or have recently introduced initiatives to welcome Chinese travelers.
“We think we’re looking at about a 50 percent growth on an annual basis, and that will compound,” said Christie Hicks, head of global sales for Starwood. In addition to conference groups and trade show delegates, Ms. Hicks said, Chinese companies increasingly view the United States as an attractive destination for incentive travel. “When they look for that aspirational destination, North America is one that continues to grow.” Hawaii is one popular destination, she added.
In July, Starwood added touches intended to appeal to Chinese travelers at hotels in 19 cities around the world frequented by Chinese travelers. Bilingual staff members will be available to assist travelers with a limited grasp of English. Slippers and tea kettles are put in the guest rooms of Chinese visitors and are available upon request. Hotel and local sightseeing information is translated into Chinese. And restaurant menus were expanded to include Chinese fare like rice dishes and congee, a kind of rice porridge often eaten for breakfast.
Hotel companies are also betting that China’s growing domestic travel industry will increase bookings in the United States. “We’re expanding within China, so the recognition of the Hilton name was becoming increasingly strong,” said Andrew Flack, vice president of global brand marketing for Hilton Hotels & Resorts.
In August, Hilton introduced a welcome program in 51 hotels in 33 global destinations for Chinese travelers, including 22 hotels in the United States. Like Starwood’s program, Hilton’s has bilingual employees available to assist Chinese visitors, and places slippers and tea kettles in guest rooms.
Travelers also get a welcome letter in Chinese, access to Chinese-language television stations and a Chinese-style breakfast with items like congee and fried rice.

“Chinese government group travel has been taking place for many years, but what’s adding to that is individual business travelers that we’re more familiar with in the West,” Mr. Flack said. “We’re seeing more Chinese delegates attending more international association conferences.”
David Townshend, senior vice president for global sales at Marriott International, said that so far this year, “We’ve seen a 50 percent increase in the business, which is obviously a strong indicator not only of the potential but clearly of the future.” Within some Marriott brands, the growth is even more pronounced.
At the extended-stay TownePlace Suites brand, the bookings are up 112 percent over the same time, reflecting the longer duration of stays for Chinese travelers.
Mr. Townshend said Marriott tested a Chinese-style breakfast including fried rice, pickled vegetables and congee in a few markets and plans to introduce it across its brands at the end of the month.
American travelers may be accustomed to a cup of coffee, perhaps accompanied by a room-temperature pastry, for breakfast. But the morning meal is a much more important one in Chinese culture, said Greta Kotler, chief global development officer at the Center for Association Leadership, or ASAE, an organization for managers of trade and professional associations.
“Breakfast in China is a very nutritious, green meal,” she said. “It’s very much more of a vegetable-rich breakfast than ours might be.”
Joseph Chi, president of Shine Tours, who helped coordinate the Amway China trip, said the company had detailed requirements for what it considered a “suitable breakfast” for delegates.
Hotel companies expect their efforts to connect with Chinese visitors will improve their standing among domestic travelers, as well. “I think we definitely have research that shows that customers look positively on hotel companies that are sensitive to the needs of travelers from multiple countries,” said Mr. Flack, of Hilton.
“There’s a sophistication that goes with that and a worldliness that talks to a high level of hospitality.”
After all, at the end of a long day, an American guest also might like to ease into a pair of slippers or make a cup of tea.

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Only 5% of US hotels websites have a Chinese version

Chinese travelers are visiting the United States in increasingly large numbers -and will continue to do so- according to two recent NTA reports.
The majority of Chinese tour operators confirmed that bookings to the United States increased, by an average of 16 to 20 percent, in the second quarter of 2011, as reported in the China Travel Trade Barometer. None of the surveyed operators reported a decline. The Barometer, produced quarterly by NTA, in partnership with Travel Market Insights and Ivy Alliance, captures input from top Chinese travel firms that promote and sell travel to the United States.

This increase is in line with an NTA report of its China Inbound Program. Based on a survey of U.S. tour operators registered with the program, which serves Chinese leisure group travelers visiting the United States, the number of tourists during the first quarter of 2011 was 99,752. Prior to the 2010 opening of the NTA Visit USA Center in Shanghai, a baseline of 46,709 leisure group travelers visited the United States during the second quarter of 2010. The baseline was established to monitor the progress of the NTA Visit USA Center and inbound travel from China to the United States.

“The increase of travelers served by tour operators in the NTA China Inbound Program essentially doubled,” said Lisa Simon, NTA president. “And those visitors represent nearly $600 million in travel and spending on U.S. lodging, food, entertainment and shopping.”

The Department of Commerce estimates that every Chinese visitor spends an average of more than $6,000, including airfare with U.S. carriers. In 2010, 802,000 Chinese travelers visited the United States, which includes all travelers from China, not just those calculated by the NTA China Inbound Program.

According to China Elite Focus, a marketing and research agency based in Shanghai, “only 5% of U.S. hotels and 3% of US retailers have a Chinese version of their website. There is a huge, untapped potential, to convince more affluent Chinese tourists to discover the US for leisure trips”

And continued growth is on the horizon, according to the China Travel Trade Barometer. Nearly all Chinese tour operators surveyed (92 percent) project an increase in 2011 third-quarter bookings from China to the United States. And for the fourth quarter of 2011, 77 percent of operators project bookings to be higher, with only 8 percent anticipating a drop from the same period in 2010.

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Travel industry wants U.S. to ease visa rules for Chinese tourists

The Statue of Liberty might “lift my lamp beside the golden door,” but American tourism officials say too many foreign visitors are finding that door locked when they try to come to the United States.
The U.S. Travel Association, the lobbying arm of the tourism trade, has launched a drive to persuade the American public and its elected leaders that it’s time to ease back on restrictions on foreign tourists. But it may be a quixotic campaign in the run-up to an election year when illegal immigration and terrorism are front-burner issues
The wealthy family from China who wants to come to Los Angeles on a shopping spree because of the weak dollar has little in common with the illegal immigrant crossing the border from Mexico. But safeguards to stop illegal entry sometimes end up snaring just the tourist.
Those bent on illegal activity will try to find ways around the roadblocks. The legal visitor likely will go somewhere more welcoming. That’s a policy the country can ill afford during a major recession, according to the U.S Travel Association.
“As a nation, we’re putting up a ‘keep out’ sign,” said Roger Dow, president of the association, in a press statement this month.
The group said barriers to easy travel to the U.S. have kept out an estimated 78 million foreign tourists (and their wallets) from 2000 to 2010. Lifting many of the restrictions could pump $859 billion into the U.S. economy and add 1.3 million jobs, by the association’s estimates.
Dow’s group points out that most of the barriers are self-imposed and archaic. While Europe has mostly unified its immigration and customs, and countries around the world have dropped or streamlined visa requirements, the U.S. still requires millions of travelers to go through a sometimes long and laborious process to visit here.
As of May, there are 36 countries that are on the Visa Waiver Program – countries whose citizens are not required to get a visa to travel to the U.S. for vacations of 90 days or less. Most of the countries are in western and central Europe, with a smattering of highly developed Asian nations such as Japan, Singapore and South Korea. Australia and New Zealand are also on the list. Citizens of most of the other 150 or so countries around the globe have to get in line and fill out the paperwork.
But what the travel association sees as “unnecessary barriers on international visitors” are seen by advocates of tighter borders as a way to control who gets to visit the country and, equally important, to make sure they go home when their trip is over.
But with a sputtering economy and affluent Chinese travelers attracted by a historically weak dollar, the travel association thinks the time is right for reform. It will push its “Ready for Takeoff” plan, touting travel as the nation’s top export sector and one that is easy to expand. The group also knows how to hit the hot button. Job growth and tax cuts are mantras Americans can get behind. Foreign visitors are a way to fill tax coffers without raising taxes on Americans. It will create jobs for Americans to check them into hotels, rent them cars and serve them meals. “Chinese tourists coming to the US have a strong desire to buy made in USA products, this is a historical opportunity for the whole nation’s economy to attract more of these affluent tourists”, commented Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus.
As part of the push, the association is re-energizing the Discover America Partnership, an umbrella coalition with associations representing hotels, restaurants, retailers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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Overview of the US visa application process for Chinese tourists

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