Tag Archives: NTA

China’s new national tourism strategy set to increase outbound tourism: a chance for the U.S.

Luxury Hotels of America Winter 2013 CoverThe Chinese government has announced a series of initiatives aimed at increasing travel among its citizens. In a recently released document, the government emphasized the importance of travel as an avenue to enhance both the nation’s economy as well as individuals’ quality of life.

“Outlines of the Chinese Citizens’ Travel Initiatives 2013–2020,” released only in Chinese, details plans for improving China’s travel and tourism infrastructure and offering incentives to travel. Among the specific steps the government will take are:

building or expanding airports, highways, hotels and attractions.
increasing the amount of paid leave for workers.
increasing tax deductions for company incentive and conference travel.
allowing schools to expand current travel windows beyond summer and winter breaks.

Through October of last year, the number of Chinese visitors to the United States was up 37 percent from 2011. In light of this surge, the prospect of more Chinese travelers is compelling for tourism professionals.

“This news has extraordinary implications for the North American travel industry,” said Lisa Simon, president of NTA. “China’s U.S. arrivals have increased dramatically since 2008, so the projection of even more visitors confirms what NTA has been saying to its members: Take steps now to capitalize on this wave of tourists.”

The Chinese government is making travel a clear priority, said Haybina Hao, NTA’s director of international development. “Chinese leaders recognize that travel expands the horizons of its citizens, and when people see more of the world, they can return to China inspired and better prepared to be creative entrepreneurs,” Hao said.

Advertisement Tower - Gervois Hotel Rating May 2017 featuring Pierre Gervois“The NTA has done a remarkable work with Chinese travel agents to help them to better understand the U.S. destinations.” said Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus, who publishes magazines in Chinese language for affluent Chinese travelers to the United States such as Luxury Hotels of America or VIP Golf USA.  Pierre Gervois added “Don’t forget that the most affluent segment of Chinese travelers to the U.S. don’t rely on their travel agents to build their leisure trip to the U.S., but more on influential luxury travel publications and recommendations of VIP travel clubs. It’s important for U.S. destinations and hotels to talk directly to their future Chinese guests through these selected channels”

The plan calls for a 10 percent increase in domestic and international travel during 2013. It also emphasizes sustainable tourism.

Hao predicts an upsurge in many types of outbound travelers to the United States. “We’ll see student groups coming not just for summer camps or winter holidays but during the regular school year,” she said. “We’ll also see more travelers coming to attend business conventions and study tours, as well as more families and seniors groups.”

NTA has been heavily involved in the China outbound market since 2008, when the governments of the United States and China signed a memorandum of understanding allowing Chinese leisure travelers to visit the United States in group tours. NTA launched its China Inbound Program that year and has since maintained a list of U.S. tour operators registered to handle inbound Chinese group travelers. And next month, Hao will be in Beijing for the China Outbound Travel & Tourism Market, where NTA is partnering with Brand USA to present the USA Pavilion.

China’s latest plan to further increase travel is a call to action, said Hao. “These initiatives will change China and will reshape our industry if we can grab the opportunity,” she said. “Chinese travel agencies are working now to identify more products and American partners, so this is a perfect time to attend COTTM to present the Chinese trade what the U.S. has to offer.”

This summer, NTA will conduct the second China Market Forum during Contact, the association’s tour operator event, which will be held on Hawai‘i, the Big Island, Aug. 15–17. NTA and Hao also provide customized workshops and strategy sessions for destination marketing organizations and tourism professionals interested in exploring the Chinese market.

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How to attract more Chinese tourists to the U.S.? Chinese Digital Media or Traditional Travel Agencies?

Inbound travel to the U.S. from China is skyrocketing. Arrivals from China are forecast to increase a whopping 274% between 2012 and 2016. It’s the fastest growth –– by far –– of any country, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“If Chinese people have not visited the U.S., they feel they haven’t really seen the world,” said Haybina Hao, director of international development for NTA.

Most first-time visitors to the U.S. opt for group tours sold by Chinese travel retailers. But independent travel is gaining in popularity, Hao told Travel Market Report, in a recent interview at the NTA Visit USA Center in Shanghai.

According to Pierre Gervois, from China Elite Focus, a Shanghai based agency providing marketing services to international travel agencies willing to attract more Chinese tourists, “The fastest growing segment of Chinese travelers is the category of affluent travelers, from the upper-middle class. They tend to rely more on on-line travel agencies, and don’t really trust traditional Chinese travel agencies to advise them on their trip.” “The best way of catching the interest of these new Chinese travelers is a presence on key Chinese social media, and to have the destination endorsed by influent Chinese Travel Bloggers”, Gervois added.

Hao, who works out of the NTA’s Lexington, Ky., office, was in China to participate in a series of road shows for travel agents and consumers.

Return visitors are adventuresome
The typical first-time traveler spends an average of two weeks in the U.S., according to Hao. Their standard itinerary includes some combination of New York City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Repeat visitors are decidedly more adventurous, often focusing on activities such as golfing, skiing and driving, Hao said.

Some repeat visitors are giving new meaning to the concept of fly-drive packages.

Earlier this year, groups of Chinese visitors traveled to York, Penn., for a tour of Harley-Davidson’s motorcycle factory, then saddled up a fleet of hogs and rode to Philadelphia as part of a group itinerary, Hao said.

Affluent visitors take to the skies
Another trend among repeat visitors includes tours that are organized around flying private planes.

According to Pierre Gervois, from China Elite Focus,

Hao explained that while consumers can earn a pilot’s license in China, airspace restrictions and a lack of facilities make it all but impossible to actually spend time in the air behind the controls.

Hao has seen an increase in affluent Chinese visitors who travel to the U.S. to put their pilot licenses to use.

Agent education in second-tier cities
While these metropolitan areas have populations that approach 10 million, most travelers prefer to work with travel agencies in Shanghai and Beijing because the second-tier cities often lack sufficient travel agency services, she said.

It is the goal of the Visit USA Center to change that.

The Visit USA Center staff recently completed a round of presentations for consumers and agents in second-tier cities such as Chongqing, Chengdu, Shenyang and Dalian, Hao said.

The events were held in conjunction with U.S. suppliers, including Disneyland Park, tourism representatives from the state of Georgia, Hilton Hotels, and five West Coast-based tour operators that specialize in in-bound Chinese travel.

Building leisure travel
The mission of the Visit USA Center, which opened in Shanghai in January, is to foster leisure travel from China to the U.S.

Key strategies included facilitating relationships between travel professionals in both countries and marketing the U.S. as a tourism destination to Chinese consumers. The Visit USA Center also maintains a website in traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese and English.

Warnings on cut-rate trips
A recent focus of the Visit USA Center is helping travelers understand that cut-rate itineraries often do not provide the best travel value and experience.

“Chinese people are very careful with their money, and they negotiate hard with travel agencies for lower-price options,” she said. In the past, retailers have promoted tours that offer low-cost per diem rates, but hit travelers with expensive add-ons once they are in the U.S.

“Don’t forget that the old image of the Chinese customer always bargaining for a low price is vastly a stereotype” said Gervois. “The new generation of affluent Chinese travelers want high quality travel services and are perfectly ready to pay for them”, he added.

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Inaugural tour of Chinese group leisure travelers to the United States

The National Tour Association (NTA) and the Travel Industry Association hosted a welcome event June 19, 2008, marking the inaugural tour of Chinese group leisure travelers to the United States.

More than 260 Chinese travelers were in attendance, along with U.S. and Chinese government and industry leaders. Guests included China National Tourism Administration Chairman Shao Qiwei, U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China Clark Randt, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez, Travel Industry Association President and CEO Roger Dow, National Tour Association Chairman and CEO Bob Hoelscher, CTP, and NTA President Lisa Simon, CTP.

“NTA is proud to join with TIA in hosting this monumental event as the U.S. opens its doors to these new international leisure visitors,” said NTA Chairman and CEO Bob Hoelscher, CTP. “NTA tour operators participating in the China Inbound Program are ready to assist Chinese travel agents, and the initial NTA list included more than 90 U.S.-based tour operators.”

Following this inaugural event, six different groups of Chinese travelers will now tour Washington, D.C., and New York before traveling to Los Angeles, Hawaii, and San Francisco.

“This welcome event marks the beginning of a great time for the U.S.,” said NTA President Lisa Simon, CTP. “We have the opportunity to boost the U.S. economy and project a welcoming image to these visitors. NTA hopes each of these travelers will go back to China with an incredible travel experience and plan to return to the United States often.”

Simon added that “NTA is the industry partner that has enabled the Memorandum of Understanding to be facilitated by implementing the list of tour operators approved to work with Chinese travel agents.”

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