Tag Archives: Chinese tourists

Beverly Hills rolls out red carpet for Chinese tourists

Julie Wagner -Beverly Hills - Shanghai Travelers Club

Chinese New Year is coming to Tinseltown, again. But this time in an even bigger way.

The Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau (BHCVB) announced Thursday that the city is going to stage a month-long celebration of Chinese New Year starting Feb 1.

It will be the fourth annual Chinese New Year celebration in Beverly Hills. This year, through a partnership with China International Culture Association, Beverly Hills will feature internationally acclaimed entertainment from Beijing in a special one-night event on Feb 1 at Saban Theatre, which will serve as a kick-off of Happy Chinese New Year – Beijing Culture Month.

The program will feature notable acts from the Beijing Performance & Arts Group, including acrobats from the China National Acrobatic Troupe and a Peking Opera piece performed by renowned artist Chen Junhua.

Musical acts will include a pipa solo by Zhou Hui, an erhu performance by Song Fei, known as China’s “Queen of the Erhu”, and a performance by China’s violin master Lu Siqing, among others.

Che Zhaohe, culture consul of China’s Consulate General in Los Angeles, announced that a photography exhibition entitled Charming Beijing, Passionate Winter Olympics will be on display at the same time at the Saban Theatre, featuring 60 images captured in Beijing by world-renowned photographers, including American photographer Joe McNally.

Che also said that China’s intangible cultural heritage will be represented by Tu’er Ye figures, Zhang clay sculptures, Yu family kites, cloth paste paintings and ancient Chinese toys such as the Mao Hou, a tiny monkey shaped toy made with plants and cicada shells.

“It is an honor to have such remarkable talent travel all the way from Beijing to share their inspiring performances and art as we celebrate Chinese New Year 2015 and the Year of the Sheep,” said Julie Wagner, CEO of BHCVB.

GERVOIS magazine Advertising and sponsored content opportunitiesAs the new visa policy applies, Wagner expects to host more tourists from China during this Chinese New Year holiday. She said participating hotels in Beverly Hills will offer special packages to Chinese guests throughout the month of February. The packages will welcome guests with popular Chinese amenities such as in-room hot water kettles with Chinese tea, Chinese newspapers, slippers and Chinese breakfasts.

In addition, most Beverly Hills hotels and stores will have Mandarin-speaking staff on-site and the visitors’ center will provide walking maps and directories in Chinese. The city’s website has a Chinese version and most stores accept Union Pay.

“We want Chinese tourists and local Chinese residents to feel at home during this family-oriented and most important holiday of the year,” said Wagner. “This is just one of the ways to show our appreciation to the Chinese people who bring business to Beverly Hills. We also want to take this opportunity to enhance our friendship with China as always.”

“The new visa policy will help to promote cultural exchange,” she said.

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Chinese Tourists coming to Hawaii in Record Numbers

Chinese tourists beach Shanghai Travelers Club

If you live in Waikiki, or anywhere in the state for that matter, new research is telling you something that you probably already know — there are more Chinese tourists in Hawaii, and they’re spending more money.
According to research, Chinese visitor arrivals increased by more than 25 percent during the first 11 months in 2014. And whether you’re working in retail or real estate, it’s pretty evident that the Chinese are here, and contributing to Hawaii’s economy.

According to the Hawaii Department of Business, the number of other international travelers to Hawaii decreased 1.8 percent in 2014, but Chinese travelers are the exception. Hawai’i Tourism China reported that 146,968 Chinese tourists visited Hawai’i between January and November of 2014; that’s over double the entire population of Kauai County. Not only has the number of visitors increased over 25.8 percent from 2013, Chinese travelers are spending more when they visit the islands.

An estimated 100 million Chinese tourists traveled overseas in 2014, and each visitor spent over $3,200 each trip. According to Hawaii Tourism China, 57.8 percent of their spending goes to shopping. Each Chinese visitor spent over $401 per person per day, which is a 2.8 percent increase from last year’s spending.

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From Hipster To Horseback: According to Pierre Gervois, Publisher of Luxury Hotels of America magazine, Chinese Luxury Travelers Demand Authentic Experiences

Pierre Gervois, Publisher Luxury Hotels of America - China Elite Focus

Pierre Gervois, Publisher of Luxury Hotels of America, New York, October 2014

As China’s outbound tourist market rapidly expands, high-end hotels and retailers across the world are vying for the business of this important group. In the United States, one company on the front lines of this trend is China Elite Focus, a New York-headquartered, Chinese-language publisher that has been producing luxury travel magazines for Chinese readers since 2008. With content focused on destinations, hotels, cuisine, retail, and philanthropy, the magazines were created to meet demand by moneyed Chinese travelers for content on authentic, upscale experiences.

In order to learn more about how China’s luxury outbound travel market has evolved over the past six years, we talked to China Elite Focus CEO and Publisher Pierre Gervois about the changes he’s seen in Chinese travelers’ taste. Read below to hear his thoughts on Chinese travelers’ interest in getting a taste of American culture, the decline of the Chinese “100 percent shopping trip,” and how this fall’s Golden Week fared for U.S. luxury businesses.

What inspired you to start China Elite Focus?

In 2008, after having served as the president of a consulting company specialized in foreign investments in China, I decided to start a new publishing company and to publish high quality luxury travel magazines in Chinese Mandarin. A lot of my Chinese friends complained to me that they could not find any publication in Chinese language with curated and sophisticated content for their outbound travels. So our mission, from the beginning, was to bring to them beautifully written travel stories about the world’s most spectacular and exclusive experiences. I’m very proud of the job we have done with our team of very talented travel editors, lead by our Senior Travel Editor, Elaine Ke. Today we publish there magazines: the Shanghai Travelers’ Club, Luxury Hotels of America, and American Philanthropy.

How is the content of your magazines tailored to a Chinese audience?

All the content of our publications is written at our Shanghai office by Chinese editors. We do not translate from English an existing article; we produce our own original content. We are in constant exchange with our readers through Weibo, and we know what kind of themes or destinations they want to read stories about. For example, we have noted a strong interest for travel to the United States over the past year, and we have increased the stories about luxury travel experiences in the United States.

We’ve been reading a lot about how wealthy Chinese travelers are becoming more interested in “experiential” travel rather than just basic shopping and sightseeing. Have you noticed this trend growing among your readers?

That is true. The time of the “100 percent shopping trips” is done. The new generation of affluent Chinese outbound travelers is now very mature, extremely well-informed, and wants to discover new experiences, off the beaten tracks. We have published stories about horseback riding experiences in the Nevada desert in Luxury Hotels of America which had great success with our readers. Chinese shoppers tend now to plan much more carefully and in a very sophisticated way their shopping plan abroad. They are looking for more limited-edition items of lesser-known brands they have discovered on social media networks, rather that already well-known global brands, who have saturated the market with products over-marketed to Chinese customers.

One of your magazines focuses exclusively on luxury hotels in the United States. Which U.S. hotels are the most popular with Chinese travelers at the moment?

Luxury Hotels of America features in particular historical hotels, or hotels with a connection to the American culture. The kind of U.S. hotels that Chinese travelers like are boutique hotels, lodges, and ranches with a connection to nature and wildlife. We have seen a significant shift from standardized, large-size hotel chains to much smaller hotels offering a personalized experience. In New York City, we have seen that hotels in Brooklyn, built in former factories, in “hip” neighborhoods were a great success with Chinese travelers, as well as properties in the American West, offering a genuine local experience.

How was this season’s Golden Week for luxury hoteliers and retailers in the United States?Gervois Rating Banner 01

We have recently discussed with several well-known retailers in the United States, and they have been surprised by the evolution of the shopping behavior of Chinese customers and their use of social media to compare brands and know exactly where to buy. It was not uncommon for them to see Chinese customers with their iPads and mobile phones texting to their friends about brands and retailers. The digital integration of the shopping experience is now extremely important and mobile payments such as the Apple Pay will definitely be very popular with Chinese shoppers in the United States. Since the beginning, we have integrated our content with social media, and we are very pleased with this trend.

What are some ways in which U.S. luxury businesses are doing a good job of reaching and serving Chinese tourists? What are some ways in which they can improve?

U.S. luxury brands and luxury hotels can do much better! They are doing all right, and have a big margin to improve their relations with Chinese travelers on the three following points:

-No more stereotypes about Chinese tourists. A lot of U.S. hospitality, tourism, and retail companies still create marketing campaigns with the stereotype in mind of group tourists traveling in coaches, staying in cheap hotels, with entirely pre-arranged shopping programs. Most Chinese travelers do not want to travel this way anymore and choose themselves their hotels and their shopping experiences, without the help of travel agencies.

-Chinese travelers to the United States are looking for a genuine American experience. Some U.S. hotel chains have developed programs specifically for Chinese travelers with rooms decorated in a Chinese style, offer Chinese food only, and entertainment programs linked with Chinese culture. This is exactly the opposite of what Chinese tourists really want. They write to our editors and complain with us that they want to find a real American experience in hotels, not a “fake” Chinese experience! They have traveled for thousands of miles to have a taste of American culture and civilization.

-A more sophisticated and thoughtful marketing strategy with Chinese customers. U.S. luxury brands must understand that, in order to sell to Chinese tourists in the United States, they must start to promote and do branding in China, with specialized digital media targeting Chinese travelers planning their trip to the United States. It’s too late and very little effective to promote their brands in printed magazines or tourist guides distributed in airports or hotel lobbies, because the purchase decisions have already been made several weeks ago, in China. Digital native advertisement (sponsored content) is also very effective to create brand awareness. Chinese customers are early adopters of the newest technologies, and old-school marketing does not work and looks “uncool” to them. Social media integration and sponsored content are the two pillars of a successful campaign with Chinese tourists coming to the United States.

Source: Jing Daily

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US retailers welcome Chinese shoppers for the 4th of July

Chinese shoppersYin Jie, a 35 y.o. Chinese tourist from Beijing, is looking at the Niuyue Mag black and blue sticker on the window of a fashion designer store in SoHo “If they have been recommended by Niuyue Mag, I know it’s a very creative brand” she says with a big smile, watching her iPad with the Spring issue of Niuyue Mag.

Chinese shoppers are expected to provide the much-needed momentum for retail sales in the US on Friday, even as most Americans celebrate their country’s 238th birthday with fireworks, cookouts and parades.
“We have received calls from several Chinese shoppers about July 4 sales,” said Jim Anderson, marketing director of the Chicago-based Fashion Outlets. “Many US retailers have already started Independence Day sales, and we expect the deals to continue through the holiday weekend..
A manager at the upscale-luxury South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California, who did not want to reveal her name, said that the number of Chinese tourists, especially independent travelers, goes up during the Independence Day period.

Advertisement Tower - Gervois Hotel Rating May 2017 featuring Pierre GervoisThe Fourth of July week is considered to be a boom period for retailers in New York. “Short-term four-day travel packages, especially ones with Woodbury Common on the route, have become extremely popular with Chinese tourists,” said Jasmine Xu, assistant manager of EWorld Tours, one of the largest Chinese-owned travel agencies in New York.
Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, located in Central Valley, New York, about an hour and a half outside of Manhattan, has 220 high-end stores and is owned by Premium Outlets, a subsidiary of Simon Property Group. This year, Woodbury’s sales will run until Sunday, and offer an additional 25 percent to 65 percent discount on top of their everyday savings on brands like Armani, Fendi and Burberry.

“On Monday, we had 15 Chinese tour groups at the Woodbury outlets, and on the first day of the sale, there were more than 20 tour groups from China,” said Jean Guinup, the regional vice-president for the northeast region at Simon.

“We may see even more than that, and it’s the same for all the Simon Premium Outlets on the East Coast and West Coast,” Guinup said.
“I’m sure there will be a lot of Chinese people going to Woodbury during Independence Day, based on our experience last year,” said Laurie Heller, marketing manager of Coach USA Short Line. “Many of them come especially when there are big sales, like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July.”
“I got to know about the huge sale happening there and decided to go and shop for brands like Coach, Tommy Hilfiger and Juicy Couture,” said Wang Xinji, a Chinese tourist from Shanghai, who was waiting with her boyfriend at the Port Authority Terminal in Manhattan for the shuttle bus to Woodbury Common on the first day of the sale.

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Chinese Cadillac owners hit the road in Amarillo, Texas

Chinese tourists in Texas - china elite focusChinese tourists are putting Amarillo on their vacation maps this summer.
Shanghai General Motors is in the midst of its fourth annual Route 66 excursions for Chinese Cadillac owners, with stops in Amarillo. In a separate effort, ICN TV Network, North America’s largest Chinese-run television company, will broadcast an episode of travel reality show live from The Big Texan Steak Ranch on Thursday.
A Shanghai GM group of Chinese tourists arrived in Amarillo on Saturday and departed Monday in a Route 66 Cadillac caravan headed for the Mother Road’s western terminus at Santa Monica, Calif., said Erik Bjella, videographer for Open Road Productions, which is running the trip.
Another group will spend time in Santa Monica on Aug. 1 and 2, then load up in the Cadillac SRX vehicles and take the Route 66 road trip in reverse. They will arrive in Amarillo for activities Aug. 8 and 9, said Nick Gerlich.

Gerlich, a West Texas A&M University marketing professor and Route 66 enthusiast, is accompanying the groups as not only a Route 66 historian, but also as “a U.S. business and marketing specialist who can educate tour participants on the history and nuances of American commerce.”
This week’s group consists of 29 Chinese Cadillac owners and 10 Chinese media personalities, Gerlich said. Next week’s journey will include 27 Chinese Cadillac dealers.
Last weekend, the tourists spent free time last weekend visiting the Big Texan and other Amarillo attractions before having a welcoming dinner Sunday at Acapulco Mexican Restaurant, across from their home for the night, the Courtyard by Marriott at the Historic Fisk downtown, Bjella said.
On Monday, the group stopped at Cavender’s Boot City for Western wear before visiting Cadillac Ranch, the Midpoint Cafe at Adrian for its well-known pie, and tourist points in New Mexico en route to Santa Fe, he said.
“I think the big thing for them is getting the experience of just driving on the open road,” Bjella said. “The majority of them own this Cadillac SRX in China, but they don’t typically go on a long road trip.”
A booming Chinese economy has provided a number of young citizens large amounts of discretionary income, according to Open Road. More than 30,000 Cadillacs were sold in China in 2013, ORP President Rick Thomas said.

“I read so many cool stories in The Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine about authentic American experiences, so I decided to buy a Cadillac to own the real thing” said Sam Wang, a proud Chinese Cadillac owner .
Owners taking the trip were selected through a social media contest in China that drew thousands of entries. Dealers taking the second trip were selected based on their importance in the distribution network, the release said.
General Motors recently invested $1.3 billion in a new manufacturing plant in China, and has committed considerable resources toward promoting the brand, the release said.
Big Texan owner Bobby Lee said the tourists who stopped in there over the weekend were appreciative of “every little detail that you don’t really think about, like the Texas flags (toothpicks) on the jalapenos and wearing a cowboy hat. They’re a pleasure to work with.”
ICN TV began its “Joy in America: Exploring Route 66” reality show on July 16 in California, an ICN news release said.
The Big Texan episode will feature at least 10 of the show’s 30 participants attempting the 72-ounce steak challenge, Lee said.
The show entourage will arrive in Amarillo on Wednesday and those taking the challenge will begin about 11 a.m. Thursday, a Big Texan news release said.
“They’re going to be broadcasting it live in China,” Lee said. “It’s like being on the Super Bowl.”
ICN has 70 million viewers worldwide, a Big Texan news release said. Its website lists 16 North American Chinese television channels covering Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Houston, Seattle, Austin, Dallas and Vancouver and Toronto in Canada.
The company’s English- and Chinese-language channels broadcast news, entertainment and other types of programming around the clock, and the company operates online and mobile platforms, its website said.
Source: http://amarillo.com  / Karen Welch

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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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Guam expecting more Chinese visitors

130212230105-guam-map-story-topChinese tourism overseas will double in the next six years to 200 million people a year, according to a recent report from analysts at CLSA, and a tiny US military outpost 900 miles north of the equator in the Western Pacific could be one of the biggest beneficiaries.

The hilly 200-square-mile island of Guam, population about 160,000, could see 50% growth in Chinese tourists, analysts say, the most of any destination.

In ultimate numbers, that’s still not huge: 21,000 Chinese tourists traveled to Guam in 2013, compared to over 3 million Chinese tourists who went to Thailand, the most popular foreign destination. But the growth in Chinese tourists to Guam has already skyrocketed from 1,000 in 2007, and Guam businesses are lobbying the US Congress to pass a visa-waiver program (paywall) for Chinese citizens that could make that growth even faster.

Guam’s proximity to the rest of Asia (it’s a three to five hour flight from several major cities) has already contributed to a boom in tourism, mostly from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, that has transformed the island’s economy. The US military base was reliant on defense spending for decades, but tourism now supplies about 60% of Guam’s revenues.

Chinese tourists Guam - Luxury hotels of AmericaTaiwan’s “Hello Kitty” airline, Eva Air, started regular flights to Guam from Taipei in 2011, and nearly 1 million Japanese vacationers come every year to enjoy the island’s mix of white sand beaches, coral reef and air conditioned duty-free shopping malls.

Guam’s military history might prove as much of a draw for the Chinese, who are clashing with Japan and other Asian neighbors over the rights to islands and territory in the South China Sea. In July, Guam celebrates its liberation from the Japanese, who landed in 1941 and were driven from the island by the US in 1944, with a month of parades, festivals and the crowning of a “Liberation Queen.”

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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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Boston’s golden opportunities with Chinese tourists

boston-heartBoston is a dense and busy place—a tangle of crowded old roads and highways, office towers, and deafening construction zones. To those who live here, it can feel snarled and frenzied; to those who visit from the suburbs or countryside, it is one of America’s quintessential urban destinations.
But that’s not what Jolin Zhou sees.
Zhou, who moved from China to Amherst in 2007, then moving to Boston in 2009, and works at a company called Sunshine Travel Services, paints a very different picture of the city when describing it to her associates in Beijing and Shanghai. “You can enjoy nature here,” she says. “There’s fresh air, and a relaxing, healthful environment.”
This portrait of Boston as a bucolic health retreat might sound odd to most full-time residents. But it turns out to be central to selling the city to a group that is rapidly growing in size and economic importance all over the world: Chinese tourists.

Over the past several years, cities across America have entered into a strange and unprecedented competition to capture the interest of the world’s most lucrative and fastest-growing stream of travelers. With new wealth, new freedom, a smoother visa process, and the recent introduction of paid vacation days, Chinese tourists are flowing outward and spending huge amounts of money wherever they go. Last year they spent $102 billion globally, according to the UN World Tourism Organization—40 percent more than the year before, making them the world’s highest-spending tourist group for the first time ever.
Not wanting to be left behind, the local tourism industry is trying to figure out what the city and the state can do to capitalize on the steroidal growth of the Chinese market. So far, this project has involved Massport lobbying airline operators to introduce a direct flight from China to Logan Airport, and the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism running seminars for local hotel operators, retailers, and restaurateurs about the quirks of Chinese travelers—that they like warm soy milk at breakfast, for instance, and appreciate it when their rooms come with complimentary slippers and instant noodle cups in the minibar.
But at the heart of this campaign is the task of projecting a “Boston brand” that will stand out from America’s other cities and attractions, reflecting the city’s special features in a way that appeals specifically to the Chinese. In some ways, the portrait that’s emerging is predictable—given the Chinese interest in education, it makes sense that Harvard and MIT are the number one points of interest. But there are also less familiar elements, among them the idea that Boston, compared to smog-choked cities like Beijing, feels profoundly peaceful and healthy.
“Bostonians take all of this for granted, all the great parks and the greenery and the waterfront and the Harbor Islands and the blue sky,” said Pat Moscaritolo, the president of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, a nonprofit that works with Sunshine Travel to attract Chinese travelers and promote Boston to Chinese tour operators. He added: “It’s a huge contrast to how people in Beijing and Shanghai live their lives.”
The competition is stiff, as cities around the country scramble to create images of themselves deliberately tailored for the Chinese market. Together, they are conjuring a vision of America, and what it has to offer, that is tuned to the often unexpected ways that people from a different culture might see it.
“It’s that old adage,” said Moscaritolo. “‘You’re never a visitor in your own home city.’”
In August, a group of about 15 Chinese journalists gathered in the backyard of the city-owned Parkman House, enjoying some wine before a “Taste of New England”-themed dinner. The next day, they would travel to Plymouth, and the day after that, Cape Cod. “Every one of these international visitors is a walking stimulus package!” exclaimed Moscaritolo, who helped plan the trip in hopes of inspiring the journalists to publish stories telling their readers to come to New England.
Right now, that is not what most Chinese tourists do when they visit America. Instead—as part of large, organized tour groups—they tend to fly into New York or California, which have direct flights connecting them to Beijing and Shanghai, and which attract by far the largest share of the Chinese tourists bound for the United States. From there, travelers take buses to see as many nearby sites as they can, often at a breakneck pace. Boston tends to be nothing more than a daylong interlude on the bus tour from New York, with visitors disembarking in Cambridge to see Harvard and MIT before continuing on their journeys.

Those sorts of visits brought in a little less than $300 million last year, according to a report commissioned by the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau. But Bruce Bommarito, a longtime tourism consultant fluent in Mandarin who has been helping Boston navigate the Chinese market, says that number could be a lot higher if the city could capture the attention of people who have already been to the United States once, and want to return in order to get to know the country in a deeper way. That’s a “different type of tourist,” Bommarito said—and as the Chinese travel boom continues, it’s one that will become more and more common.
In order to get Chinese people to stay longer in Boston and New England—to stay in the city’s hotels and eat at its restaurants for multiple days and nights, then make short trips to other parts of the region—the first order of business, according to Moscaritolo, is convincing an airline to start running a direct flight from China to Logan Airport. People flying directly in and out would be more likely to spend their money here—especially on the luxury goods they plan to take home. In July, The Wall Street Journal reported that Hainan Airlines had sought approval from Chinese regulators to start a Boston route as early as next year.

‘This new Hainan Airlines route between Beijing and Boston is an incredible opportunity for Boston” said Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus Magazines LLC Publisher of Luxury Hotels of America, a travel magazine for affluent Chinese travelers, and an expert in marketing US destinations to Chinese travelers. He added “Boston is a sophisticated destination that will appeal to affluent travelers who have already been to New York and Las Vegas. With its historical and cultural background, the city should definitely target independent Chinese travelers, and not the group tours, who might prefer other mainstream destinations”
It’s not just Boston that wants their business, of course: Across the country, a map is emerging of city-specific pitches engineered to the enthusiasms and preferences of the imagined Chinese tourist. In Chicago, emphasis is placed on Michael Jordan and Derrick Rose—massive stars in China, where basketball is popular—as well as the University of Chicago’s record of producing Nobel Prize winners. Seattle uses a popular Chinese romantic comedy that was set there, “Beijing Meets Seattle,” as a marketing hook.
“Houston has worked the market very hard from a Jeremy Lin—Yao Ming angle,” said Bommarito. He added: “Hawaii does very well because of its proximity. Florida is starting to grow, particularly Orlando and Miami, because the Chinese like cruise ships and they like the mouse.”
In Boston, the trick has been figuring out what the city can offer besides a chance to visit the educational mecca of Cambridge—a big draw, but not enough to convince tourists to stay here more than a day or two. This challenge has required those involved in the Boston tourism industry to put themselves in the minds of the people they’re trying to pull in. “What you need to do is look at the reasons why they travel, what they’re looking for when they come to America,” Moscaritolo said.
Some things are obvious. It’s well known, for instance, that Chinese travelers love to shop, because the steep sales tax in China makes luxury goods so much more expensive there. But others are more surprising: American history, it turns out, is of great interest, which makes Boston’s unique role in it a major selling point. “One point I try to market is that Boston is one of the oldest cities in America,” said Zhou, adding that many Chinese people don’t realize that historical events they learned about in school, like the landing of the Mayflower, took place near Boston. Part of Zhou’s pitch, for that reason, is that “Boston is the birthplace of liberty and freedom.”
Then there’s the nature angle, which positions Boston as a place with fresh air and a gateway to New England, where visitors can enjoy the rolling hills and foliage, go whale-watching, eat fresh lobster, and hike through national parks. That Boston offers such easy access to nature appeals to Chinese tourists looking for respite from the atmosphere back home: “If you consider how polluted, how thick, the air in Beijing and Shanghai is, you will understand this,” said Yang Xiao, a reporter for Southern People Weekly, who arrived in Boston on a Nieman Fellowship just a month ago. Since then Xiao has visited Walden Pond, and is planning a trip to Maine; even being here for a little while, he said, “changes the air in your lungs.”
The outdoors is already part of Chinese travel habits: Domestically, tourists spend occasional weekends relaxing in small farm towns, and if they have more vacation time, they go to Tibet, the Yunnan province, or Thailand. “There’s a market in China with people going to different places to enjoy nature,” said Zhou, “but they don’t know yet that Boston and New England [have] that. That’s the message we want to send out.”
In light of China’s growing concerns about pollution, Boston looks practically like a spa destination, a city defined by good health. Adding to this impression are its world-class hospitals—where, according to Zhou, some Chinese visitors have gone for “general body checks” they believed would be far superior to what they could get back home. “Sometimes Chinese people say if you cannot get treated in Boston, you cannot get treated anywhere else, because Boston has the most advanced hospitals in the world,” Zhou said.

As the number of Chinese tourists pouring out into the world continues to grow, he went on, we will start to see their interests and preferences reflected more and more in the places they’re visiting.
The nature of these pitches demonstrates that the appeal of America isn’t always what Americans assume it is. In some ways, we’re an older economy now than China, and visitors from a land of towering apartment buildings and levitating trains will be less surprised by our gleaming skyscrapers than they are charmed by our old-fashioned parks, our bodies of water, and the height restrictions in our neighborhoods.
“Sometimes we get caught up in the notion of bigness in America, whether it’s big buildings or big cities or big airports, and we think that if it’s not huge and big it’s not good,” Moscaritolo said. But when he talks to Chinese visitors about Boston, he said, “every one of them gets animated by the concept of open space, the streetscape, and looking up and being able to see the sky.”

Source: Boston Globe, article by Leon Neyfakh

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Wealthy Chinese tourists cancelled leisure trips to the U.S. due to shutdown

 Chinese tourists in the United States

For many in the tourism industry, the U.S. government’s partial shutdown could not come at a worse time. The week the United States closed its national parks, monuments and museums coincides with Golden Week, designated by the Chinese government as a time for its citizens to travel.
The United States was named the top “dream destination” for Chinese travelers, which make up the fastest-growing tourism market into the United States. But the dream vacation for many Chinese tourists has turned into a nightmare, according to Haybina Hao, director of international development for the National Tour Association, whose tour operators and other members focus on travel into and within North America.
“Many Chinese visitors have saved for years to take the trip of a lifetime to our country. They wanted to see Yellowstone, the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon,” Hao said. “But they’re seeing none of it. They are extremely frustrated and confused by U.S. politics.”
While Chinese travelers are losing a golden opportunity, U.S. tour operators are losing money. “I had a group of 25 Chinese visitors who planned to visit Yellowstone this week, but they cannot get in,” said Sonny Sang of California-based ACC America China Connection, a member of NTA’s China Inbound Program. “I re-routed them to another destination, but I’ll lose $10,000 on this group. And I have another group of 22 arriving on Sunday to see Yellowstone. The financial consequences are unbearable for me as a small tour operator.”
More and more Chinese have been arriving since 2008, when China began to allow leisure travelers to visit the United States in group tours. Since then, China has become the fastest-growing source of visitors for U.S. hotels, restaurants and attractions. Last year Chinese visitation here increased 41 percent, and spending by Chinese travelers rose 19 percent, following 47 percent increases in both 2010 and 2011.
Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus Magazines, LLC and Publisher of luxury travel magazines in Chinese language such as the Shanghai Travelers’ Club, Luxury Hotels of America or Niuyue Mag, said “ We have reports of  very affluent Chinese tourists who have cancelled at the last minute their luxury shopping trip to the U.S. because of the shutdown. Knowing that they would have spent millions of dollars in shopping in the U.S., it’a direct and measurable loss for the U.S. economy”
Now they just need a place to spend it. “The tour operators I talked to are really scrambling to find alternative activities, including a tour operator who has more than 20 groups in the U.S. this week.” Hao said. “Compared to other countries that utilize creative ways to lure Chinese tourists, the U.S. shutdown will shatter the confidence of international travel companies.”
Many U.S. tour operators have become creative in salvaging their groups’ experiences, including Neil Amrine, owner of Guide Service of Washington (DC). “The biggest disappointment is the Smithsonian being closed, but we’re coming up with other solutions,” said Amrine, who revised the itinerary for a group of Chinese travelers this week, adding for-profit attractions and employing little-known pathways to view popular monuments. “They weren’t thrilled at first, but I think they’ll leave happy.”
The challenge for tour operators—and for the entire U.S. tourism industry—is to work with city and regional tourism organizations to develop alternatives to national parks and monuments that will satisfy travelers. Most are finding a wealth of options across the country, from California to Washington, D.C. At the same time, they’re keeping an eye on continuing closures and tourism roadblocks caused by the shutdown.
“We’re fielding calls nonstop and posing alternatives that are working,” Amrine said. “We’ve had only one group cancel, so we’ve been lucky… so far.”
As Gervois concluded” The purchasing power of Chinese inbound tourists in the United States is now so important for the country’s economy than it’s more than ever necessary to reach a bipartisan consensus to protect the travel and tourism industries’ interests”
Source: Global Travel Industry News

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