Chinese tourists get CA welcome

Updated: 2014-10-23 12:04

By Lian Zi in San Francisco(China Daily USA)

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With its unrivaled and legendary natural wonders and attractions, California is a leading destination for Chinese tourists.

To further promote California's tourism economy, Visit California has sent a delegation of 24 tourism industry leaders tovisit Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu on California's annual China Sales Mission from Oct 19 to 24.

The mission is intended to build relationships between leading members of California's travel and tourism industry and those in China that drive consumer decisions on outbound travel, including travel professionals and the media, said Ryan Becker, director of communications for Visit California.

Visit California and, China's largest online travel service, signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday outlining the organizations' objectives, according to Becker.

In Chengdu, Sichuan province, Sunny Tour's management team shared the latest trends of Chinese outbound tourism from the southwest region of China.

Delegates will also connect directly with Beijing-based media to maximize exposure of key California attractions.

"China is now California's top overseas tourism market, which in turn is a key pillar of California's economy," said Becker.

In 2013, more than 819,000 Chinese visitors traveled to the state, injecting $2 billion into its economy from travel spending, an increase of 30.5 percent over 2012 figures, according to Becker.

Onaverage, Chinese visitors spend $2,500 per trip to California, more than travelers from any other market. The top spending categories are shopping, which accounts for about 40 percent of total expenditures, followed by accommodations, food and beverages.

Our latest projections estimate a 20.6 percent increase in Chinese leisure trips to California from 2013 to 2014, Becker added.

"The returns we're seeing from our concentrated investment in China have surpassed all expectations," said Caroline Beteta, CEO of Visit California.

From the companies' point of view, more nonstop flights between China and California effectively contribute to the growth in the number of Chinese travelers to California.

There will be six cities in China-Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Hangzhou and Wuhan - with direct flights to Californiaby the end of this year,compared to just three in 2013, said Becker.

"Overall, there are more than 70 weekly nonstop flights from China to California," he added.

Visit California recognizesthe benefit of using media andstar powerin promoting tourism.

In 2014, Visit California rolled out its "Dream Big" campaign in China, which included their first non-English broadcast ad featuring popular Chineseactress Gao Yuanyuan.

During this fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, Visit California is more than tripling its 2013 investment in consumer marketing in China. Areas of focus include television, online TV and social media, Becker said.

The organization is aiming for sizable Chinese tour groups next year toensure that California receives a significant share of the expected 91 percent increase in outbound Chinese tourism between 2013 and 2017, according to an email sent by the company to China Daily.

As visitation from China continues its remarkable growth, California's economy will benefit from an increase in jobs, employee earnings and tax revenue for state and local governments, said Becker.

Last year, California Governor Jerry Brown participated in a Trade and Investment Mission to China and announced the opening of a California-China Office of Trade and Investment in Shanghai.The office focuses on increasing bilateral trade and investment between China and California, including tourism, said Becker.

Visit California is a nonprofit organization with a mission to develop and maintain marketing programs, in partnership with the state's travel industry, that keep California at the top of people's list as a premier travel destination.

 Chinese tourists get CA welcome

Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan, celebrity tourism ambassador for Visit California, takes to the red carpet at Universal Studios in Universal City in California.  Provided to China Daily

(China Daily USA 10/23/2014 page2)