China joins in NY Times' travel show

Updated: 2014-03-03 12:00

By Amy He in New York (China Daily USA)

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 China joins in NY Times' travel show

Sun Guoxiang (center), consul general of China in New York and Xue Yapin (right), director of the China National Tourist Office visited Lu Ping (second from left), general manager of China Eastern Airlines-New York and staff at the airline's booth at 2014 New York Times Travel Show on March 1. More than 500 representatives from 150 countries participated in this year's three-day exhibition. Liu Lian / China Daily

Representatives of the US-to-China tourism industry were among the more than 350 exhibitors at the 11th annual New York Times Travel Show hosted at the Javits Center, showing travel professionals and consumers the best China has to offer and promoting a series of Travel Show-specific tour packages.

At the Asian Pavilion more than 10 exhibitors represented mainland China and Taiwan, including tourism groups like Wendy Wu Tours USA, Access China Tours, airlines such as Air China, China Eastern Airlines, and the Taiwan Tourism Bureau as well.

"China's one of those places that was always a little foreign to people, but people are a lot more receptive to going now," said Davie Ingram, destination specialist for Australia-based Wendy Wu Tours, which has operations in the US.

"Before, it was one of the things where people say, 'China is on my list of places to go, it's on my bucket list, I'll get to it one day.' They figure that it's their final hoo-rah," he said, but trans-Pacific travel was still a hassle, China was never a primary destination, he said.

With numerous airlines all competing for a slice of the US-China travel pie, people are noticing the accessibility and affordability of traveling overseas and jumping to travel to China, Ingram said.

Airlines servicing China travel have seen increases in demand, and are allocating additional flights accordingly. Air China, China's national carrier, will begin offering two daily non-stop flights from New York to Beijing beginning Mar 30 and in June will be launching 4 weekly non-stop flights between Washington, DC and Beijing.

Derek Huang, a corporate sales associate for Air China, said that he and an associate have been promoting the air carrier to travel agents across the country to establish the Air China brand in the US, which is difficult at times, he said, because of so many competing Chinese airlines.

Sichuan Airlines, another carrier represented at the travel show, currently doesn't offer any flights out of the US, but Maggie Liu, a sales executive, said that the company hopes increased interest in Sichuan's famous pandas will fuel travel to the province and that it will eventually service US-China trips.

The airline - whose tagline reads "the fastest way to the home of the pandas" - serves primarily the domestic Chinese market and offers flights to surrounding neighboring countries such as Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea.

Attitudes of travelers are changing as China becomes more prominent on the global stage, said Joseph Sinisi, director of marketing and sales at Access China Tours.

"People are much more open-minded now," he said. "There's a curiosity. Ten years ago, they would have been like, 'They're Communist and they're going to ask for our papers!'"

But now there are more and more multi-generational trips to the world's second-biggest economy as interest in the country grows.

"There are grandparents who want to take not only their kids but their grandkids too to have unique experiences," he said. "We're also getting more heritage trips - people who have adopted Chinese girls who are now teenagers and want to go back to China."