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Chinese New Year: Las Vegas Lays Out Red Carpet for Chinese Tourists

Chinese gamblers - China Elite FocusHotels and shopping malls on the Las Vegas Strip will welcome Chinese tourists with free gifts, lucky draws, dragon dancing, and traditional Chinese entertainment during the Lunar New Year.  Feng shui masters have even been called in to create floral displays with Chinese themes in shopping malls, hotel lobbies, and other locations as Lac Vegas pulls out all the stop to welcome Chinese travelers, who are visiting Sin City in ever increasing numbers. Luxury Hotels of America, a Chinese mandarin travel magazine has already planned a special issue on Las Vegas due to the high demand of its affluent Chinese readers.
“We recognize the value and power of the Chinese traveler,” says Janet LaFevre, Senior Marketing Manager, Fashion Show and Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian.
“We are expanding our reach to the Chinese tourist through recent sales missions to Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Guangzhou, along with Chinese advertising campaigns, social media, and trade show participation. Our efforts are already paying off via our cooperation with UnionPay, which will help to draw even greater numbers of Chinese shoppers to Fashion Show and Grand Canal Shoppes.”

Brian Chuan, Director of Tourism Marketing and Development for Macy’s Inc., which has a large department store at the Fashion Show shopping mall, is equally upbeat.
Along with Grand Canal Shoppes, Fashion Show is collaborating with UnionPay – China’s most popular credit card – to make Chinese travelers feel welcome in Las Vegas during the Lunar New Year.
“We have partnered closely with UnionPay and have accepted UnionPay card payments at all our stores for nearly 10 years,” Brian says.
“Macy’s has a dedicated tourism marketing team offering exclusive visitor programmes, and our Fashion Show store features a Visitor Center to service visiting guests. In celebrating the coming of the Year of the Horse, Macy’s will further our focus in welcoming Chinese shoppers with special in-store events, displays and merchandising at select destinations.”

Chinese travelers are becoming a force to be reckoned with in many parts of the world, and Las Vegas is no exception.
“China is currently the number one source of international travel to Las Vegas from Asia and continues to grow at a rapid pace,” says Michael Goldsmith, Vice President of International Marketing for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
“Las Vegas welcomed 263,000 visitors from China in 2012, a 40% increase from the prior year.”

Source: http://www.accidentaltravelwriter.net

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Connecticut needs more Chinese tourists

Connecticut is courting Chinese tour directors in hopes of attracting some of the growing number of visitors from their country to help revitalize the state’s tourism industry.
During a visit in the past week by a group of Chinese tour operators, representatives of the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney and others promoted southeastern Connecticut. That region is home to the Mystic seaport, Mystic Aquarium, two Indian-run gambling casinos and several vineyards.

The group of nine Chinese officials stayed at the Mohegan Sun hotel and visited Mystic and the shoreline town of Clinton. They also went to area vineyards and Westbrook’s malls.
Peter Glankoff, senior vice president at the Mystic Aquarium, said the region needs a boost. Tourism has been flat over the last 10 years due to the recession, the weak recovery and what Glankoff said has been a lack of investment in tourism in Connecticut.

He said the town of Mystic is one of the state’s strongest attractions and is among the leading brand names in New England tourism.

The town was founded in 1654 and became a shipbuilding center in the 19th century, during the clipper ship era. More recently, Mystic has become known for the Mystic Seaport, a prominent maritime museum, and the Mystic Aquarium, home to Robert Ballard, known for his discovery of the Titanic in 1985. The aquarium draws about 10 percent of its 700,000 visitors a year from overseas, Glankoff said.
“It’s OK, but the potential is much greater,” he said. Aileen Moriarty, sales manager at United Airlines, helped organize the visit as a way to promote visits to Connecticut from the airline’s route to Newark Liberty International Airport. Tourists can take the train or bus from northern New Jersey to Connecticut.

Most tourists bypass Connecticut in favor of New York and Boston, she said. The Connecticut itinerary got the attention of tour operators as an alternative to other U.S. destinations, she said. “Most international travelers have already seen New York, Los Angeles and Boston,” Moriarty said. “They’ve gone to the main attraction.”

Tourism from China to the United States is relatively small. Chinese tourists ranked No. 9 in visitor spending with $3.5 billion in 2009, but the numbers are rising quickly, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. According to Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus, a PR agency specialized in helping destinations to attract more Chinese tourists “The US are #1 dream destination for most of Chinese tourists. As the tourist  visas are gradually easier to obtain, the U.S. CVB’s should get ready to welcome a growing number of affluent Chinese visitors”.

Connecticut’s economic development officials don’t expect quick results from the tour by Chinese officials. “It’s not instant, instant gratification,” Evans said. “Maybe we’re taking a few (tourists) that are going to Florida or the Cape or San Francisco or Canada. Maybe we’re taking a little from there and some new people.”

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Las Vegas rolling out the red carpet for Chinese gamblers

It’s the time of year when red and gold lanterns adorn Strip casino ceilings and citrus trees line hotel lobbies. It isn’t your typical New Year’s décor but a sign that Las Vegas is ready to usher in another round of celebrations — and one of its most profitable periods of the year.

The Chinese New Year officially begins today, bringing thousands of domestic and international tourists to Las Vegas and injecting million of dollars into the city’s economy.

The holiday ranks among the busiest times on the Strip, along with New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl weekend, which coincides with the beginning on Chinese New Year.

“Chinese New Year very important to us financially, maybe not in terms of overall visitor count, but clearly for gaming volumes, especially baccarat. The financial impact can rival what the town experiences for New Year’s Eve,” said Greg Shulman, vice president of international marketing for the Bellagio.

Shulman said the majority of MGM Resorts International’s customers travel from Southern California for the holiday, but their higher-end customers come from areas such as Hong Kong, Mainland China and Taiwan.

As said Patrick Cooke, Vice President of US Sales and Marketing of China Elite Focus, a marketing agency helping resorts and casinos to attract wealthy Chinese visitors “The second wave of wealthy Chinese gamblers is coming to Las Vegas. The first wave arrived about five years ago, it was mostly Chinese businessmen spending two days in Vegas after business and official meetings in NYC of Los Angeles, now, this second wave is made of pure leisure tourists who stay one full week in Vegas and may easily have a budget of $100,000. This is a huge opportunity for Vegas resorts and Casinos”

Chinese New Year typically attracts a high-end clientele who spend more than the average vacationer, especially on the casino floor with high stakes gaming like baccarat. The holiday will last through mid-February, resulting in longer stays for international guests with extended vacations.

Shulman said it’s not uncommon for a guest coming from overseas to stay for up to two weeks and at multiple resorts. It’s more about the experience for those guests, he said. Strip casinos have been preparing their grounds for weeks with traditional and ornate decorations to welcome guests for the holiday.

The Bellagio Conservatory features thousands of live flowers surrounding an 18-foot statue of Cai Shen, the Chinese god of prosperity.

About 8,500 plants have been fashioned into a mother and eight baby rabbits in honor of the Year of the Rabbit.

MGM Resorts will kick off the new year with ceremonial lion dances at Bellagio, MGM Grand, Aria and the Mirage. The dance is meant to ward off evil spirits of the past year and bring good luck for the new year.

The celebrations at MGM Resorts will culminate with a gala for invited guests at Aria on Saturday for invited guests.

Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts and Caesars Entertainment each have traditional lion dances scheduled at their properties, as well as special menus catering to their Asian guests.

This weekend, Caesars Palace will host performances — they are nearly sold out — by Hong Kong-based singer and actor Jacky Cheung, Caesars Palace President Gary Selesner said. The shows are expected to bring an additional 4,000 people to property each night of Cheung’s three-night stay, he said.

“The holiday is always a busy time for Caesars Palace, but this year in particular because it lands on top of Super Bowl. Each of those are busy times, so the two of them together is going to be spectacular,” Selesner said. “It’s clearly one of the most important the periods of the whole year.”

The majority of the wealthy guests staying at Caesars Entertainment properties for the holiday will be at Caesars Palace, but just like domestic customers, some prefer the budget-friendly hotel-casinos for their attractive prices, Selesner said.

“Each of the other properties in Las Vegas, they are all celebrating Chinese New Year with their customers with decorations, promotions and special events,” Selesner said.

While properties like Caesars Palace have been celebrating Chinese New Year for more than 35 years, M Resort is ringing in its first. General Manager Jody Lake isn’t ready to let the Strip casinos be the only ones to cash in on the holiday.

Lake, who came to M Resort from Station Casinos in July, said Palace Station in particular targeted Asian clients and is where he learned the importance of marketing the holiday.

“The business Chinese New Year has generated on the Strip is pretty substantial. With all the events the Strip casinos have, they pull all the play their way,” Lake said. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve seen a greater influx in Asian business to our property, somewhat due to our location and the ability to get here from California.”

Lake said M Resort has a “significant” Asian host program, which the resort has been actively marketing in the Los Angeles area. The resort held an event in Chinatown in Los Angeles a few weeks ago and expects to see more customers as a result.

The resort will be hosting its first lion dance this weekend, as well poker tournaments and special menus at its restaurants for the occasion. M Resort will be selling specialty $8 chips, a lucky number in Asian culture, commemorating the Year of the Rabbit.

“The holiday is a lot of fun,” Lake said. “It brings a good crowd and good energy, and it just brings a lot to the month of February.”

Source: www.lasvegassun.com

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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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