China tourism boosted at marquee NBA game

Updated: 2014-03-17 11:13

By May Zhou in Houston (China Daily USA)

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Beijing tourism was highlighted at the NBA Spurs vs Utah Jazz game held at the AT&T Center in San Antonio the evening of March 16. Each fan attending the game received a small gift package containing a towel, party favors and a tour map of Beijing. A short film showcasing Beijing landscapes and sports events was broadcast on the big screen in the arena during breaks.

And most of all, during the game, one lucky fan, Andrew Gomez, an IT analyst from San Antonio, won the Free Trip to Beijing, China raffle. Gomez received the big prize - a free 6-day trip from Houston to Beijing for two - from Wang Yue, vice-chairman of Beijing Municipal Tourism Development Commission (BMTDC), and Yang Song, cultural consul from the consulate general of China in Houston.

"I can finally visit Beijing! It's like a dream come true!" Gomez said when he accepted prize.

The small Beijing tourism delegation, led by Wang Yue, consisted of deputy director of BMTDC Liu Jingan, vice-president of China CYTS Tours Holding Co Guo Xiaodong and secretary general of the World Tourism Cities Federation Ding Peng, who joined thousands of fans at the arena to promote Beijing.

According to Wang, BMTDC has been working with the NBA to promote Beijing tourism in the US since 2009 and held similar promotional events through the NBA in New York and Los Angeles in the past. "Our primary goal is to utilize the NBA's platform to promote Beijing as a travel destination," Wang said.

Besides this one night of a Beijing tourism themed game and prize drawing, BMCTD also advertises its tourism attractions with the NBA and has its ads constantly displayed on the most prominent hometown score boards.

Following its hosting the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, Beijing and Zhangjiakou have been in the process of applying for hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic. Currently, Beijing boasts a number of high-standard stadiums, golf courses and ski courses. Every year, some of the world's top sporting events take place in Beijing, such as the Tour of Beijing, the Beijing International Marathon and the China Open in tennis.

Wang said that by promoting Beijing to US sports fans, BMCTD hopes to combine tourism and sports together to attract tourists to its major sports events, an added bonus to Beijing's many scenic attractions and six world cultural heritage sites.

"Another goal of our promotional trip is to learn something about the NBA's promotional model. They are very successful and very good at marketing and we would like to learn from them," Wang said.

A big portion of international tourists are serviced by China CYTS Tours. This is why its vice-president, Guo Xiaodong, was part of the delegation. "We hope to spotlight Beijing's unique culture to the US and to help us to better provide inbound tourism services," Guo said.

Cultural consul Yang Song said that showcasing Chinese elements during a popular NBA game is an effective strategy for BMCTD to promote Beijing. "The US constitutes the biggest percentage - 15 percent - of Beijing's inbound international tourists. More than 700,000 visits are made by Americans every year. That makes the US very important for Beijing's tourism business," Yang said.

"Of course, I believe this kind of promotional activity will also help the American people to better understand China and Chinese culture, and we also would welcome US cities to promote themselves as travel destinations for the people of China," Yang added.

(China Daily USA 03/17/2014 page1)