China-US tourism gets a boost

Updated: 2013-08-12 10:56

By Chen Jia in San Francisco (China Daily)

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In a move to encourage increased international visitation to the US and to grow America's share of the global travel market, the National Tour Association (NTA) will host a China Market Forum in Hawaii next week.

"The prominent travel agents from China are on their way, as well as leading US experts," said Bob Rouse, spokesman for the NTA, which represents package-tour operators in the US and Canada.

The forum comes after a series of initiatives this year, which aims to bring millions of new international visitors - and the billions of dollars they spend - to the US, creating tens of thousands of new American jobs.

Earlier this year, the Obama Administration and representatives of the US travel and tourism industry launched a campaign called Brand USA that included China as a key target of their $150 million marketing fund promoting the US as the top travel destination in the world.

After establishing offices in Beijing and Shanghai earlier, Brand USA launched anintegrated campaign which includes consumer marketing, social media and a Chinese-language website, available in mobile and PC versions, on Aug 7.

"The website and social media (specific to the Chinese market including Sina Weibo, Tencent and YouKu) work together to engage travelers, distribute influencer content and connect with users regardless of their preferred platform," said Camila Clark, marketing communications director of Brand USA.

This gives Brand USA the ability to reach consumers through a cohesive marketing program and in turn provide highly qualified users and value to our travel partners in China and globally, she said.

She said the number of Chinese visitors to the US has been increasing rapidly, and even more visitors hope to explore the "roads less traveled" in coming years.

"The new website, which is not simply a translation of the English website, includes practical information on US destinations, opportunities to join promotional activities, receive special offers and earn rewards for their engagement while integrating with the social media function," she said,

Users may upload stories and photos of their US trips to win a variety of prizes, she added.

In 2011, China ranked No 9 in terms of international arrivals to the US and in 2012 it jumped to No 7. By the end of 2013 it will be vying closely for the No 5 spot with Germany and Brazil, according to the latest data from Brand USA.

"We also enhanced our Chinese website to include a daily posting on Weibo (China's Twitter) with a different theme each day," said Angela Jackson, media relations director of the San Francisco Travel Association.

The association's Shanghai Office has been working with five top tour operators in Shanghai on special itineraries for attracting more Chinese travelers to California during the 2013 Spring Festival, she said.

Helen Tsui, the director of international tourism for the association's Asia-Pacific department, saidthat "repeat Chinese visitors nowseek more in-depth tours to gain a deeper understanding of the destination, and their strong interest in buying luxury brands and vitamins has not changed".

First time Chinese visitors to the US usually try to cover as many cities as possible, spending only one day in San Francisco. So repeat Chinese visitors like to spend three to four days to really experience the different neighborhoods of our city.

(China Daily USA 08/12/2013 page1)