East Coast delights lure tourists

Updated: 2013-05-16 05:07

By Xu Lin (China Daily)

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 East Coast delights lure tourists

Virginia is expected to attract Chinese tourists because of its unique history and culture. Provided to China Daily

While most Chinese tourists like to visit the West Coast cities in the United States, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, there has been growing interest in East Coast cities.

"If you want to know about the history and culture of the US, the East Coast is the ideal place," says Matt Gaffney, president and CEO of Capital Region USA, the official regional destination marketing organization promoting Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland internationally.

In 2011, the number of Chinese visitors to the Capital Region was 235,000, making it the second biggest overseas market after the United Kingdom. More Chinese tourists are expected thanks to an easier visa process.

More US tourism bureaus are coming to China to promote their cities.

"President (Barack) Obama wants to increase the number of global visitors to the US to over 100 million. It makes a big difference when he put it as priority," says Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC, the lead organization to market Washington DC.

Diane Bechamps, vice-president of marketing with the Virginia Tourism Corporation, agrees.

"Visitation from China to the US has grown greatly. China is the number one growth market and everybody is after it. In the US, tourism people often say China is where we need to go," she says.

In Washington DC, an ongoing $8 billion project includes tourism infrastructure, such as hotels and restaurants.

"Visitors enjoy international cuisine, top retail stores and recreation such as night life in the city. It's very wise because tourism helps boost the economy," Ferguson says.

According to him, the Capital region is the perfect place for first-time travelers from China who want to experience something different and explore the richness of US history and culture.

"If you come to the US on a budget and want to have a diverse experience. We offer so many different things in Washington DC and the region. You can do various things in the city that are free, such as museums, monuments and memorials. It's a value-added destination for many people," he says.

Gaffney says the best time to visit the Capital region is July and August as there are better rates at hotels during the weekend. He also recommends visiting during US and Jewish holidays.

"To understand America, you must understand Virginia. Virginia has it all - mountains, the Atlantic Ocean for great beaches, and the history of the United States because it's where the Civil War was fought," says Robert F. McDonnell, governor of Virginia.

The Washington Dulles International Airport is in Virginia, and travelers who fly to Washington DC often spend their first night in the hotels of Virginia, which borders Washington DC.

"Tourists should see Washington DC either at the beginning or the end of their trip. Then they can rent a car to enjoy the beautiful countryside in Virginia, being out of the hustle-and-bustle of the city. You should also see the wineries, try the farms' table meals, and the golf," Bechamps says.


(China Daily 05/16/2013 page19)