US strives to attract foreign tourists
Updated: 2013-03-12 11:20
By Chen Jia in San Francisco (China Daily)
Visitors at a tourism show in Shanghai check out promotional materials about US tours. The Obama administration has decided to launch marketing campaigns in countries including China to attract tourists to the United States. For China Daily
US President Barrack Obama administration, in partnership with the travel and tourism industry, is working to promote America as an international travel destination and is spending $150 million for its global marketing campaign this year. China will be one of its key targets.
"Our latest promotion efforts include television commercials in nine nations, including China," said Anne Madison, spokeswoman for Brand USA, the name of the partnership between the federal government and the tourism industry.
Brand USA launched its "Discover America" campaign last year with an advertising pitch in Britain, Canada and Japan. In 2013, global advertisements will be expanded to China, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea, Germany and Australia.
US tourism industry officials said the US share of overseas visitors has shrunk by almost a third in the past decade, according to a report of the Washington Post on Monday.
"Those nine markets represent 75 percent of all inbound travel to the United States," Madison said.
She said the marketing investment in China is based on the country's continuing growth in the number of Chinese tourists who travel abroad.
"China accounts for a higher percentage among the top 10 overseas markets for the US tourism industry and it continues to grow," she said.
The Chinese mainland is on its way to becoming the leading source of cross-border tourism around the world. In 2011, mainland travelers made 70 million trips to foreign countries, as well as to Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, up 22 percent from 2010, according to data released by the Chinese tourism authority.
Madison would not reveal any details to Brand USA's purchase of advertisements in China, but said it will be scheduled and announced to the public next month.
"We don't have the media buyers' name for the Chinese market right now and the representative firm is working on that," she said.
Brand USA was created in 2010 to encourage travelers from all over the world to visit the United States. Its official website is provided in five languages: English, Korean, Portuguese, French and Japanese. It will be upgraded to Chinese soon.
"It aims to facilitate Chinese users, from both the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, who could look through information about US attractions in their own language on the website," Madison said.
She said that Brand USA has offices in nine countries and it is about to open another six, including in China and India.
One reason why the US tourism industry has declined has been the heightened security in the US after the attacks on Sept 11. Another reason is that China, Turkey and other nations have attracted far more tourists in recent years.
Last year, Obama called for a national strategy to make the US the world's top travel and tourism destination to generate jobs and revitalize the economy.
"The more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work," Obama said.
More than one million local jobs would be created over the next decades if the US enhances its share of the international travel market, officials estimate.
Last year, the State Department cut the average waiting time for Chinese applicants seeking an interview for a US visa to five days.
It also dispatched its first group of "consular adjudicators" to consulates in China to help regular Foreign Service employees in 2012.
US consular officials in China issued more than 453,000 visas in the last fiscal year's first half compared with 310,000 during the first six months of 2011, a 46 percent rise.
Obama set a 2012 goal of boosting the number of visas processed by 40 percent. States and cities in the US are competing for media exposure in China under the nation's new campaign.
California is gearing up for another surge in Chinese tourism market this year with a $1.6 million marketing campaign called "Visit California". It will be run by a nonprofit group that handles marketing for the state's official Travel and Tourism Commission.
The Golden State has seen double-digit growth in tourists from China year over year and the number of Chinese visitors to California is expected to increase 113 percent between 2011 and 2015.
The marketing group will take part in Governor Jerry Brown's trade delegation to China scheduled for April 8-15.