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China-U.S. tourism on growth trajectory

Chinese family at beach - China elite focusChina-U.S. tourism is on a growth trajectory and can help promote closer people-to-people links between the two countries, CEO of China’s top online travel service provider Ctrip has said.

Ctrip sees huge growth potential for Chinese tourists traveling to the United States, Jane Sun said at Columbia University Business School’s Chazen Institute of Global Business.

Last year, a record of 1.3 million people booked air tickets to the United States on Ctrip, she said. The company served in 2016 more than 160,000 Chinese tourists who traveled to the U.S. by providing package tours and other tour products, she added.

GERVOIS magazine Advertising and sponsored content opportunities“People are entrepreneurial in China and want to explore opportunities in other markets. That’s why there is a lot of demand for travel from China to Australia, Europe, New Zealand and the U.S. along with other areas,” said Sun, who was recently rated by Forbes China as one of China’s most powerful business women.

Ctrip made strategic investment in three U.S. tour operators to support the demand by Chinese for trips to the United States last year.

Sun said that there was still room for growth and that her company wanted to further expand its market share.

“I have lived in both the United States and China and I cherish the friends I have in both nations. Travel can be a bridge between the two countries,” she said.

Gervois magazine - Marriott HotelsCtrip, which had an initial public offering on the Nasdaq in 2003, is an industry heavyweight with over 30,000 employees and market valuation of about 25 billion dollars.

“Ctrip is doing a great job to promote the U.S. as a luxury leisure destination” added Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus Magazines LLC, a New York based publishing company specialized in luxury travel magazines in Chinese Mandarin. “I have a lot of admiration for Ctrip’s business model.  When I was living in Shanghai, I have been one of their customers for all my plane tickets reservations”

Statistics showed that the number of Chinese tourists traveling to the U.S. jumped by 14.7 percent in the first three quarters of last year from a year earlier, while the number of American tourists traveling to China increased by 7.3 percent during the same period.

Source: Xinhua

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Marketing to Chinese Outbound Tourists: Towards Normalization.

By Pierre Gervois, Founder & Publisher of the STC magazine, CEO of China Elite Focus Magazines LLC (New York), keynote speaker and expert about marketing to outbound Chinese tourists.

In 2005, I had the first conversations with executives in luxury hospitality groups about the importance of improving the welcome for their first Chinese guests. I knew they used to receive a very poor quality of service, in large part because of the ignorance of the Chinese culture from the staff of luxury hotels, and also because of the persistence of stereotypes about Chinese travelers.

The General Managers of five star hotels I talked to from 2005 to 2007 told me more or less the same thing “Chinese tourists don’t stay in five star hotels”, and, as a consequence, they did not see the point of investing resources to improve the service for their Chinese guests.

Today, these same hotels advertise in the STC magazine and ask us to define their marketing strategy to attract more of high-spending Chinese guests and offer them the best possible service.

Things have obviously changed over the last ten years.

To better understand the way Chinese outbound tourism has dramatically changed over the last decade, let’s go back fifteen years ago, in the early 2000’s.

I would define three periods to describe the evolution of Chinese outbound tourism:

From 2000 and 2005, most of Chinese outbound travelers were business travelers traveling in official delegations to attend to trade shows and official business meetings in Western Europe and in The United States. At that time, it was nearly impossible for individual Chinese leisure travelers to obtain an independent leisure visa for Europe or the U.S., and the only way to have holidays overseas was to travel in the famous (or infamous) group tours organized by Chinese State-owned outbound travel agencies, in partnership with selected destination management companies in their country of destinations.  Basically, their passports were confiscated by travel agencies during their trip in coaches and low quality hotels, which is not a very enticing way to travel.

Gervois magazine - The new travel magazine for millennials travelers in the United StatesI talked with many of these first Chinese leisure travelers between 2000 and 2005, and they told me how displeased they were by the very poor quality of their travel experience, and how their feelings were hurt by the stereotypes who were widely spread within the travel industry: Chinese tourists were supposed to love to travel in coaches, were allegedly obsessed with discounts, and would prefer to stay in one star hotels. In fact, my Chinese friends were at that time willing to be free to explore a country on their own, were searching high quality – and expensive- travel experiences, and were particularly fond of nice suites in five star hotels. Basically, like a lot of affluent western travelers.  But not of a lot of travel and tourism professional understood and even listened to them at that time.  You were a Chinese tourist?  Then you had to fit in a certain category of negatively stereotyped traveler. Period. In some cases, that was very close to segregation, and surprisingly, very few western travel & tourism professionals realized how painful and sometimes humiliating it was for Chinese leisure travelers.

From 2005 and 2010, The travel and tourism industry started – slowly – to give up on stereotypes concerning Chinese travelers, and at a slower pace to gradually improve the service for Chinese travelers.  Some hotel chains started to offer in-room Chinese tea (It took several years of studies and commissioned researches for hoteliers to take such a simple and inexpensive step), or started to recruit a few Chinese speaking staff members.  But the industry did not yet understood where the core problem was: the structural inability of both the outbound travel agencies (OTA’s) and destination management companies (DMC’s) to understand this massive change in international outbound tourism.  In less than ten years, faster than in any other country in the history of international leisure tourism, a group of outbound travelers was growing at an impressive and never seen rate, from 5 million in 2000 to 57 million in 2010. With old fashioned organizations, Chinese OTA’s could not offer the kind of service that the new generation of Chinese travelers wanted from them: a good understanding of international travel opportunities.  On the other hand, DMC’s in Europe and the U.S. were still stuck in their preconceptions about Chinese leisure travelers and kept offering the same standardized programs (Traveling in coaches from a discount shopping mall to another and sleeping in very low quality hotels), that were by the way never favored by the Chinese travelers themselves.  But their advice was never solicited.  That was before the social media era.

Around 2008, the first social media networks started to become popular in China.  And yes, I remember the time (somewhere in 2008), where Facebook and Twitter were freely accessible in China. With the launch of Weibo in 2009 and dozens of other Chinese social media networks, Chinese outbound travelers started to post stories about their experiences about their overseas travel, and make comments about hotels (since 2008 with the launch of DaoDao, the Chinese version of TripAdvisor). I frequently read translations in English of comments written in Chinese Mandarin about famous luxury hotels in New York, London or Paris, and the first comments and reviews were incredibly negative. Most of them expressed how the staff of these famous hotels lacked of respect with their first Chinese guests, and did clearly offer them a second-class experience compared to other guests from western countries. I was also surprised to see that nobody in these hotels made the effort to request a translation of comments made by their Chinese guests and analyze them.

From 2008 to 2010, the first travel destinations, travel agencies and hotels started to realize that they needed to communicate properly with Chinese outbound travelers, but very few marketing options existed. China Elite Focus was historically the first digital marketing agency (founded in june 2008 in Shanghai) who was exclusively specialized on digital travel marketing for affluent Chinese outbound travelers, with a unique focus on luxury destinations.  The launch of China Elite Focus was followed by a flurry of creation of other independent digital marketing agencies in China, Europe and the US, and defined all together an entire new marketing category: digital marketing to Chinese outbound travelers. The quick development and the popularity of Chinese social media networks as well as the first digital campaigns to promote international travel to Chinese potential travelers contributed critically to a better connection between travel operators worldwide and the emerging category of young and affluent Chinese first-time outbound travelers.

But access to the information was still a big issue, specifically for high spending travelers: From China, how to know what is the best hotel in New York you absolutely want to stay in? What is the best exclusive golf course in Scotland? How to book a table in the Paris’ finest restaurants?  No curated information was available at that time in Chinese Mandarin.  The existing travel magazines published in China did not had such sophisticated informations, and no website existed. That is the main reason we launched the Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine (or the STC magazine) in 2009 as an electronic newsletter and since 2012 as an iPad & iPhone digital publication.

From 2010 to 2015, all the elements of the complex puzzle were in place: a dynamic social media network environment in China, the emergence of digital only Chinese travel agencies using extensively social media, the growing desire of Chinese travelers to discover foreign countries, and the understanding by western travel, tourism and retail companies that, yes, this is it, Chinese travelers are the world’s biggest spenders and the #1 group of Chinese outbound travelers. This is an interesting period where we saw two different categories of Chinese travelers intersecting on different paths. Senior travelers, mostly top executives of large Chinese companies who reward themselves after a life of hard work with a once or twice a year luxury international travel experience, and their children, in their early twenties, who quickly become frequent global travelers (six to ten times a year), and end up spending more than their parents in travel and shopping.

One of the important reason for the exponential growth of Chinese outbound tourism (120 million in 2015) is luxury shopping, and in particular the desire to have a genuine shopping experience. Buying a Gucci bag in Milan, a Louis Vuitton suitcase in Paris or a Tiffany diamond in New York was seen in the early 2010’s as a necessary sign of social status for the young and affluent generation. International luxury brands understood too late this trend and hastily opened too many stores in China in this period, many of them with more sales associates than Chinese customers. (They are now closing stores and start to focus on improving the customer relations at their flagship stores in the US and in Europe for Chinese shoppers.)

GERVOIS magazine Advertising and sponsored content opportunitiesOn January 19, 2012, President Obama issued the “Executive Order #13597” who had a major impact in Chinese outbound travel.  This decision had to major consequences:
First, “to increase nonimmigrant (i.e. tourists) visa processing capacity in China by 40% over the coming year”, meaning allocate more human resources at U.S. consulates in China in order to be able to review and process more leisure visa requests.  Second, “to ensure that 80% of nonimmigrant visa applicants in China are interviewed within 3 weeks of receipt of application”, meaning to allow a much faster process for individual Chinese tourists planning holidays in the U.S..  This rather technical Executive Order created a psychological change in the perception the United States as a  luxury holidays destination by Chinese travelers.  Previously more considered as a business destination, the U.S. were seen as of the beginning of 2012 as a much more “tourist friendly” destination by the Chinese, and they started massively to consider to spend holidays in this country, who appeared as newly opened to them. We saw a surge in requests on Chinese search engines about “travel and holidays in the US” in the first half of 2012, and the U.S. travel and tourism industry operators started to feel the economical benefits of an increased influx of Chinese leisure visitors as early as the summer 2012. (1.5 million Chinese visitors came to the U.S. in 2012, 3.1 million are expected for 2019).

In november 2014, China and the United States negociated a reciprocal agreement to extend the validity of tourists visas up to ten years (multiple entries).  It means that since november 2014, a Chinese tourist with a valid tourist visa to the United States can keep this visa for up to ten years, with multiple entries. That is very close to the “Visa Waiver program” with european tourists, and has strongly encouraged Chinese travelers to choose the U.S. over Western Europe destinations, who do not offer tourists visas with such a long validity for Chinese visitors.

At the end of 2015, We could say that 80% of tourism offices, hotel chains, retailers, and airlines had in place elements for a marketing strategy focused on Chinese tourists, even a modest one. What a change if we compare to 2005, where virtually less than 5% of them had a strategy in place.

Today, what could be the trends for the years to come? The first world that comes to my mind is normalization. For the last fifteen years, travel and tourism marketers considered Chinese tourists as a kind of “exotic” category of international traveler, with all the stereotypes and preconceptions attached. Now that more than 100 million Chinese travelers discover the world every year in virtually every country on the planet, tourism and travel professionals have a much better understanding of what the most important group of tourists really want.  And it’s – how surprising – exactly what Americans and European travelers want when they travel abroad: A carefully curated travel experience, nice hotels, local cultural and food discoveries, and the possibility to choose, alone, what to do during the day. Before starting a marketing campaign focused on Chinese outbound travelers, it’s now time to have the exact same mindset that for a marketing campaign targeted at any other nationality of tourists. And, please, forget about the stereotype of the Chinese traveler allegedly only interested by discounts. They are not. They want quality, sophistication and authenticity.  And they know it doesn’t come cheap.

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Luxury hospitality guru Pierre Gervois on how to cater to Chinese tourists in the U.S.

Watch Pierre Gervois’ exclusive interview for China News

Pierre Gervois - TV interview for China News 2016

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More Chinese buyers for California Real Estate

Chinese family invest in US real estateIn January 2015, President Obama announced a new plan to further open the American door to the Chinese and predicted that this new visa agreement could inject billions of dollars into the U.S. economy. “Under the current arrangement, visas between our two countries last for only one year. Under the new arrangement, student and exchange visas will be extended to five years; business and tourist visas will be extended to ten years,” said President Obama at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing.
Prior to this agreement, Chinese citizens had to renew their American business, tourist, and student visas annually. This visa regulation for travel from China to the U.S. was “one of the biggest stumbling blocks” for Chinese buyers of U.S. real estate, said Simon Henry, co-chief executive of www. juwai.com, China’s largest international real estate website. According to the White House, 1.8 million Chinese tourists visited the U.S. in 2013, generating $21.1 billion to the U.S. economy, and with this new visa law, up to 7.3 million Chinese visitors are projected to visit America in 2021, contributing roughly $85 billion per year to the U.S. economy, predicts U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.
But what impact will this new visa law have on the real estate market here in Silicon Valley? We predict the local real estate market will receive a further boost as a result of the new U.S./China visa agreement. The new business and tourist visas will encourage more Chinese to travel to the U.S. and stay for longer periods of time. Likewise, with the extension of student visas, more Chinese parents will consider sending their children to U.S. schools. For these Chinese, having a permanent place to live while working or studying will be important.
GERVOIS magazine Advertising and sponsored content opportunitiesFor years, many affluent Chinese looked to U.S. real estate due to its stability and diversification. The new visa agreement will encourage those on the fence to consider taking the plunge and investing in U.S. properties. Not only will it be easier for them to come to the U.S., but it will also be easier for their friends and family to make frequent visits. Given our thriving local economy, appreciating real estate market, excellent schools, and great weather, Silicon Valley properties will be serious considerations for these folks. Moreover, Silicon Valley properties are considered reasonable compared to those in Shanghai or Beijing. “International buyers…are often surprised at how reasonable our prices appear,” says Ken DeLeon, founder of DeLeon Realty.
While the new visa agreement will likely contribute greater investment into the U.S. market, China’s strict currency regulations remain in effect, and we have seen enhanced enforcement by the Chinese central government over the past six months. These regulations prevent large amounts of currency from moving out of China. For example, Chinese nationals are allowed to transfer the equivalent of U.S. $50,000 per year into a foreign bank account. Given the hot, all-cash, non-contingent real estate market in Silicon Valley, buyers from China looking to purchase properties in this area should plan ahead and care should be given to ensure compliance with all U.S. and foreign laws. Additionally, these buyers should be prepared to provide proof to sellers that the funds are available. Along the same vein, sellers and agents should request for proof of funds with the offer letter to ensure that the buyers have the ability to close on time. Furthermore, when verifying funds, listing agents must understand the significant differences between the rules that apply to mainland China and to Hong Kong, which is classified separately as a special administrative region.
Gervois magazine - Marriott Hotels“California Realtors must also be aware that most of Mainland Chinese investors interested to buy U.S. properties over $5M will use funds coming from Caribbean banks or Switzerland banks, to avoid the Chinese regulations on currency control”, said Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus Magazines LLC, the publishing company of the Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine, a publication for the wealthy Chinese.
The market for Chinese investors in the U.S. is therefore much bigger than “official” forecasts. It’s time for Realtors to be proactive with Chinese buyers and increase their presence in Chinese media.

References:
1. Kenneth Rapoza, “Obama’s New Visa Law Seen Helping Chinese Buy U.S. Real Estate,” http://www.forbes.com, November 14, 2014.
2. E. Scott Reckard, Andrew Khouri, Hugo Martin, “New Visa Rules Expected To Boost U.S.-China Tourism, Investment,” http://www.latimes. com, November 13, 2014.
3. Ken DeLeon, “Worldwide Real Estate Impact On Silicon Valley,” DeLeon Insight, September 2014.
4. Pierre Gervois, “How U.S. Retail, Travel, and Hospitality Industries Can Attract Affluent Chinese Tourists” , June 2012, China Elite Focus Editions. ASIN: B008L98Q3U

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New York City expects 1 million visitors from China by the end of 2018 (and probably sooner)

Chinese tourists - ManhattanNew York City hopes to reach 67 million annual visitors by 2021, and a big part of the plan is attracting big spenders from places like China and Brazil.
Of that 67 million goal, New York expects 16 million will come from international markets, and 51 million stateside. Based on city figures, 965,000 tourists came from Brazil, and 809,000 from China last year, which ranked Nos. 2 and 3 in international tourism to the city.
“China’s been growing a little faster in percentage from a rate-of-growth perspective, so China’s been a huge growth market for us,” said Christopher Heywood, spokesman for NYC & Company, the city’s official tourism bureau. “Brazil in the last few years has also been [growing], and it still will grow this year, but our big focus is on China.”
An informal survey by China Daily of major US tourist cities finds that the Chinese and Brazilians are substantially increasing their visits.
New York expects 1 million visitors from China by the end of 2018, Heywood said.
Only a few years ago, Brazil and China were not ranked in the top three international markets for New York, but have overtaken European markets such as France, Germany, and Italy.
“One thing about Brazil and Chinese is they don’t mind coming in the winter months, so for Lunar New Year, a lot of our Chinese visitors come during that period,” Heywood said. “The Brazil market, they don’t mind the novelty of being in the snow and being in the cold, so they don’t mind coming in those winter weather months, which is exactly the time of year we want to fill the gap and create more demand during the first quarter,” Heywood said.
Las Vegas is seeing a steady increase of travelers from the two countries, which along with Australia, have been major growth markets for the gambling capital, despite not having direct flights to any of the three countries.
“Our market share and growth has been very good, and our growth in Las Vegas over the last three years has been slightly higher than the growth to the US from China, so we feel very comfortable about that,” said Rafael Villanueva, senior director of international sales for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
“We realize that we’re not going to go out there and get gobs and millions immediately, so we want to do it correctly,” he said. “As the second-tier cities in China start opening up, that’s going to be our volume market.”

“Chinese businessmen like Vegas to close business deals with their American business partners” noted Pierre Gervois, Publisher of the Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine. ” we have seen a trend since the beginning of 2015, where Chinese Executives came to New York City for business, and organized a two days trip to Vegas, inviting their U.S. counterparts -sometimes in private jets-, in order to close their business deal and have good time”, Gervois added.
Those are the visitors who are going to the US to experience what Villanueva called the “sampler plate”. He said “they came and visited 10 cities in the two to three weeks they were here, and now they’re coming to the US to spend a little more time in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas”.
Las Vegas welcomed 300,000 visitors from China in 2013, up from 263,000 in 2012, and 187,000 from Brazil in 2013, up from 161,000.
The Chinese make up a much smaller portion of Miami’s visitors, but there is growth. The city doesn’t have specific data on the number of Chinese tourists, only air studies completed by the city’s airport air service consultant, and it estimates that the Miami market generated 55,000 Chinese passengers in 2014.

Source: China Daily USA / Amy He

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This business near Yellowstone caters to Chinese tourists — and their desire to shoot big guns

Chinese tourists like shooting range - china elite focusA tour bus pulls up outside the Red Lotus restaurant, one of three Chinese restaurants in a town of about 1,500. Thirty Chinese tourists unload. They immediately start to photograph a nearby sign in Chinese.

“So this sign is saying: ‘soldier, brothers and shooting range’ … you can do it yourself, now, here,” explains my Chinese-English translator, Xuying Wang.
Eric and Beverly Yarger own the indoor range, known in English as Yellowstone Big Gun Fun. They hired someone from China to help them with the Chinese name. And they hire Chinese staff every summer to handle the tourists.
In fact, they set up shop here specifically to cater to vacationing Chinese.
“We were very much aware of the fact that the Chinese come to America to see Yellowstone Park,” Beverly Yarger says. “That’s the number one thing for them to do, and to go to Vegas. And so, we came up here, observed how many tour buses were coming in and how many were Chinese.”
Yellowstone may or may not be the number one attraction, but it is very popular. By opening the only shooting range in town, the Yarger’s have found an activity that Chinese tourists enjoy after spending the day in the park. They estimate that half of their annual business comes from China. Eric Yarger says it’s even more during the summer.
“During the summer, probably 80 percent are Chinese,” he says. “They all like to shoot the AK-47 and the M-4.  If its shiny, they’ll shoot it.”
As we talk, another large group of Chinese tourists comes in after a day in Yellowstone. They’re pretty serious about deciding which guns to shoot. The menu — in Chinese — explains their choices: $25 to shoot a rifle or handgun, $50 for a machine gun and up to $349 for a bit of everything. Their tour guide Kevin Zhang says this is a big deal for his clients.
“In China, they seldom have chance to shoot a real gun,” Zhang says. “So I talk with them, [tell] that it’s legal to shoot a gun in the United States. So they have a strong curiosity to come here. Most of them their first time to touch a real gun.”
Choosing a gun was easy for a young man who calls himself “Louis” — he shot the AK-47. Louis says when he plays computer games he uses the AK-47.
Louis says he’ll tell his friends who come here that they should pick a smaller gun, because the AK-47 is very powerful.
But it’s clear that Louis really enjoyed shooting that very powerful gun. He can’t stop smiling. And it’s because of happy clients like this that the Yargers don’t really need to reach out to tour companies in China anymore. Business comes from word of mouth on social media.
Yun Jie from Inner Mongolia was nervous about her first time shooting a gun, so she picked the gentler gun that was recommended. As we speak, she types on her smartphone, telling her friends that she is going to shoot a gun in America. She says she is getting a lot of likes.
And that’s something all business people in the town of West Yellowstone, Montana, like to hear.

Source: PRI

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With China Southern Airlines, more Chinese tourists in New York City

Niuyue Mag - China Elite Focus Magazines LLCIt’s no secret that investment by Chinese businesses in New York has helped both Chinese and US businesses flourish. Now China Southern Airlines and “I Love New York” – New York State’s tourism agency – have partnered up to promote global tourism in New York State. And it should be another shot in the arm for New York’s economy.
Around 1.8 million tourists from China visited the US last year. With an average spending of $3,297 per tourist per trip, they contributed $877 million to New York City’s economy alone, according to Attract China, a marketing company that helps businesses in the US establish an online presence to lure visitors from China.
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Aug 6 that China Southern Airlines and “I Love New York” were launching a partnership to promote New York State for global tourism and business. The partnership is in support of the Governor’s Global Tourism initiative.
The promotion officially got underway with China Southern Airlines celebrating its inaugural direct flight from Guangzhou to JFK International Airport, the airlines’ first ever direct service to the US’ East Coast.
“Collaborating with Asia’s largest airline will make everything that we have to offer more accessible to China’s bustling market, quite literally providing a gateway to the iconic Empire State,” Cuomo said.
“New York is experiencing record levels of tourism in both New York City and Upstate New York, and our administration will continue to foster this surge so that spending by visitors and investment by businesses can continue to grow local economies,” the governor added.
GERVOIS magazine Advertising and sponsored content opportunitiesThe partnership includes training key China Southern Airlines sales staff on New York State tourism highlights, enabling tour operators to offer New York State vacation travel options and collaborating on public relations efforts to promote New York.
China Southern Airlines Chairman Si Xianmin said: “We are thrilled to launch our direct route to New York City and partner with the governor in his initiative to promote Chinese tourism in New York, a state not only boasting epic skyscrapers but also one endowed with natural beauty and resources and one that harbors a culturally diverse and friendly people.”
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said: “This new marketing partnership with China Southern Airlines furthers our efforts to promote tourism across the state. There is so much to see and do in New York and we look forward to welcoming visitors from China to experience all of New York State’s rich history and culture.”
“China Southern Airlines and New York State have goal in common, and that is to get more people to come to New York,” said Gavin Landry, New York’s executive director of tourism.

” About 20% of the readers of Niuyue Mag come from Guangzhou”, says Pierre Gervois, CEO & Publisher of Niuyue Mag, a luxury lifestyle magazine about New York City in Chinese language. ” With this partnership, we’ll see more Chinese tourists in NYC. This is an excellent initiative”.
China Southern Airlines, the third-largest air carrier in the world, now has four direct flights a week from Guangzhou to New York. “China itself is a source market for global tourism,” said Landry, noting that it is on the top five list of countries with the most visitors to New York State.
“As the Chinese economy flourishes, there is a growing demand for travel,” said Landry.
Landry said the number of Chinese visitors coming to New York has been growing. “A million Chinese are already living in the New York City area, the Chinese diaspora provides a great opportunity for tourism as well. People have their relatives and family visiting,” said Landry.
Before the announcement of their partnership with China Southern Airlines, NY’s tourist board offered “Becoming China Ready” workshops to service the Chinese tourism market. The workshops in Albany, Utica, and Rochester were well-attended by the private sector, government agencies, and tourism and hospitality organizations learning how to understand and promote themselves to the Chinese market.
Earlier this year, “I Love New York” established offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu.
“I think more Chinese visitors will be a tremendous help to the economy,” said Charles Mon, vice-president of Sino-American Tours based in Manhattan. “More tourists from China will also benefit the cruise industry.”

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California expecting more affluent Chinese shoppers

Chinese shoppers - Luxury Hotels of AmericaCalifornia’s No. 1 market for overseas visitors is China, said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California, a non-profit geared toward maintaining and developing tourism marketing programs in the state.  She said Chinese tourists spent more than $1.6 billion in 2012, and spending levels are expected to increase, with China’s growing middle class and the easier access to visas for U.S. travel.
“We’re seeing a trajectory on China that is once in a career or lifetime,” Beteta said.
And it’s that growth that many tourist attractions and venues want to capture in sales.
Beteta’s non-profit hosted a forum at the Langham Huntington hotel in Pasadena on Wednesday, where more than 460 people gathered to discuss tourism issues, including how to better cater to Chinese travelers.
The tourists are coming from large metropolitan Chinese cities like Shanghai and Beijing, as well as second-tier cities like Qingdao, Hangzhou or Chengdu.
Reports  show a growing interest from affluent Chinese nationals to invest in American real estate, business and send their children to the U.S. for study. Additionally, Chinese millionaires tend to be on the younger side. The average age of a millionaire in China is around 37, compared to 57 in the U.S.
One key factor is also how much money tourists from China spend – an average $170 a day in L.A., which compares with tourists from other locales spending an average $163 in L.A.

But how to convince affluent Chinese tourists to choose a U.S. destination versus another? Chinese travelers have their secret weapon in their iPad. Several digital travel magazines entirely in Chinese mandarin are now published for the famous Apple tablet, and have a tremendous impact on how Chinese tourists plan their trip to America. Publications like Luxury Hotels of America, Niuyue Mag, or the Shanghai Travelers’ Club have gained tens of thousands of new readers over the last year. According to Sam Wang, a Shanghai businessman traveling three to four times a year to the U.S. “I read Luxury Hotels of America before choosing a hotel because they have a high quality editorial content about hotels that I can’t find in regular travel websites or booking engines in China.” He also said ” I want the top hotels where American famous people go, not the hotels for tourists that are advertised by cheap travel agencies”.
Businesses are hoping to give tourists more reasons to come to their attractions by pulling out all the stops. Hotels like the Hilton are offering Chinese breakfast, with dishes that include rice porridge. And stores like Macy’s are offering a 10 percent discount that can be used on some luxury brands.
Gervois magazine - The new travel magazine for millennials travelers in the United States“We’ve done a number of promotions to make it very easy and appealing for the consumers to shop at Macy’s,” said Brian Chuan, director of tourism marketing and development at Macy’s. “We have the products that they want. We carry all the American designer brands that they are looking for.”
He said Chinese tourists spend the most money at Macy’s compared to any other international group. Macy’s tracks the sales by how much the tourists spend on their international credit cards. He said it’s cheaper for Chinese tourists to buy the American brands here, because in some cases it might cost three times more in China.
“We see them leaving with an extra luggage filled with things they want to bring home,” Chuan said.
Chuan also said Macy’s accepts the China UnionPay card, which is a payment card associated with network of banks in China. That makes it convenient for shoppers who don’t want to pay in all cash.

Spending from international visitors make up just 3 percent of Macy’s overall sales at its 800 stores nationwide, Chuan said. But he pointed out that at some locations, spending from international tourists could make up 20 to 50 percent of a store’s total sales, he said.
Chuan travels to China to market Macy’s to groups such as tour operators and banks. Macy’s doesn’t have any locations in China, but Chuan said people there are familiar with the brand.
Macy’s has 13 stores with visitor centers, that allows customers to check in their bags. Centers in Southern California include one in San Diego and Downtown L.A., for its close proximity to the convention center and Staples Center. At key stores, Macy’s may have Mandarin speaking staff.
It appears to be working. Just one day last week in New York, buses dropped off about 1,500 Chinese travelers at the Macy’s, he said.

Source: Southern California Public Radio / W. Lee

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Chinese tourists have become the highest-spending overseas visitors to the U.S. and valued customers for U.S. shopping centers and travel industries

Chinese tourists - Chanel store- China Elite FocusMinutes after arriving by bus at an outlet mall in Cabazon, a dozen or so Chinese tourists hustled out to buy luggage that they planned to stuff with high-end clothes, shoes and bags.
But not Guoshing Cui, a Samsung supervisor from Guangzhou. He made a beeline for the Coach store, where he picked out three expensive handbags. He paid more than $800 from a wad of $100 bills.
The bags were gifts for family and friends in China, where Coach goods sell for two to three times the price in the U.S. “It’s a smart move,” he said of his purchases.
That kind of power shopping has made the Chinese tourist the highest-spending overseas visitor to the U.S. and one of the most valued customers for U.S. outlet malls, shopping centers and tour bus operators.
Chinese tourists spend an average of $2,932 per visit to California, compared with $1,883 for other overseas visitors, according to the latest statistics by the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries. A big chunk of their spending — about 33% — goes for gifts and souvenirs.
“What we know about Chinese visitors is they don’t like to lay on the beaches,” said Ernest Wooden Jr., president of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board. “What they do like is shopping.”
The outpouring of Chinese money helped set a record for spending by foreign visitors to the U.S. — $168.1 billion in 2012, according to federal officials. Los Angeles is getting its share of the Chinese spending: Nearly 1 in 3 Chinese travelers to the U.S. makes a stop in the City of Angels.
“The Chinese middle class is growing and their No. 1 destination is L.A.,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has made two trips to China and will be in Beijing this week to promote trade and travel with L.A.

“Our magazine has featured many articles about California in 2013, due to the high demand from our readers, very affluent independent Chinese travelers who carefully plan their trip to the U.S. and don’t trust much the official group tours travel agencies” said Pierre Gervois, Publisher of Luxury Hotels of America, a mandarin-only luxury travel publication about the United States. Pierre Gervois added “There is often this misconception that Chinese travelers are interested only in cheap hotels: It might have been true five years ago, but the new generation of Chinese travelers are perfectly aware of the quality of U.S. hotels and shopping malls. The South Coast Plaza (Orange County), for instance, has perfectly understood how to welcome Chinese shoppers. It’s an example to be followed by the entire luxury retail industry”
China’s relatively strong economy and its growing middle class means more Chinese citizens have money to travel and spend, according to tourism experts. The middle class in China numbered 247 million people in 2011, or 18% of the population, and is projected to grow to more than 600 million by 2020.
Visitors to California from China are typically professionals, executives or managers, with an average annual income of $66,900 — compared with an annual per capita income of about $5,000 for all Chinese residents, according to statistics from the U.S. and Chinese governments.
To draw in more Chinese spending, store owners, hotel managers and tour guides in Southern California are going out of their way to welcome Chinese tourists.
At the Desert Hills Premium Outlets in Cabazon, 20 of the 130 stores employ Mandarin-speaking salesclerks such as Jeffrey Hsu, who works at the mall’s Ugg Australia store.

“I think we understand their customs,” Hsu said. “When someone comes to a foreign country they want to bring back gifts for their family and friends.”
Spending by Chinese travelers has grown so fast in the last few years that it has surpassed the per capita outlays of other high-spending visitors, including travelers from Japan, Australia, Brazil and South Korea.
The customs and unique characteristics of the local economy shape how foreign visitors spend their time and money when visiting the U.S.
Australians, for example, share a similar culture with the U.S. and are more likely than other overseas travelers to visit museums, art galleries and historical sites.
“We are fascinated by peoples of different cultures,” said James McKay, an engineer from Melbourne, whose recent visit to the U.S. included tours of Alcatraz island in San Francisco, the Pearl Harbor memorial in Hawaii and ground zero in New York. He also took a historic tour of Disneyland with his wife, Karen.
Japanese tourists, according to travel surveys, spend heavily at restaurants because certain foods, particularly red meat, are much more expensive in the island nation.
That may explain why Morton’s steakhouse in Beverly Hills has become hugely popular among Japanese tourists.
“Don’t even put fish or chicken in front of them,” Joanna Sanchez, a spokeswoman for the restaurant, said of Japanese visitors. “They come for steak.”
But Chinese tourists tend not to shop for themselves. Most of their purchases — usually high-end clothes and accessories featured in American movies and magazines — are gifts for friends and family.
Chinese tourists in the U.S. target brands such as Coach, Ugg, Polo, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Neiman Marcus and L’Occitane. Steep Chinese taxes make such brands two to three times more expensive in China, said Helen Koo, president of America Asia tours in Monterey Park.
“Many tourists feel that the savings more than pay for the entire trip,” she said.

Source: Los Angeles Times / Hugo Martin

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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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