Beverly Hills banks on Chinese New Year

Updated: 2014-11-21 15:23

By Su Zhou in Beijing(China Daily USA)

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Star-studded US city Beverly Hills is gearing up for its annual Chinese New Year celebrations to attract more Chinese tourists and business travelers.

It will be the fourth consecutive year that the city is celebrating Chinese New Year with cultural shows including Chinese acrobatics, Peking Opera and traditional musical performances.

Located in Los Angeles county in Southern California, Beverly Hills has attracted many tourists from China with its high-end shopping, homes of the rich and famous, and hosting of entertainment accolade shows like the Golden Globe Awards.

"We have a lot of Chinese residents and businessmen in Beverly Hills, and we have many Chinese tourists and business travelers coming every year," said Julie Wagner, chief executive officer of the Beverly Hills Conference and Visitors Bureau.

"It is the priority to make them feel welcomed."

The city receives 6 million visitors every year and 63 percent of them come from outside the US, Wagner said.

About one-quarter of the international visitors are from China, she said.

Wagner said that, with the latest visa changes that make it easier for Chinese travelers to stay longer in the US, she hopes more of them will visit Beverly Hills.

The bureau is pushing ahead with its "China Ready" strategy to make Beverly Hills an easy and welcoming place to visit for Chinese travelers.

It will continue to improve services for Chinese tourists, such as providing more travel information at its visitor center, hiring more Chinese-speaking staff for shops and hotels, and making it easier to accept UnionPay, which is the most popular payment card for Chinese consumers, Wagner said.

"To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Beverly Hills, there are going to be specially designed packages for Chinese tourists," she said.

Bolstered by the new visa agreement, Chinese travel agencies have also recorded fast growth in the number of Chinese tourists booking trips to the US, especially for the upcoming Christmas and Chinese New Year holiday seasons. Chinese New Year in 2015 starts on Feb 19.

"Many Chinese families now like to celebrate Chinese New Year overseas," said Ge Lei, the national marketing director of China CYTS Tours Holding Co, a major travel service provider in China.

"Chinese New Year, National Day and the summer break are the three peak periods of Chinese outbound tourism," Ge said.

"Many destinations in the US provide exclusive services to Chinese tourists during Chinese New Year."

Zhang Guangrui, honorary director of the Tourism Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the boom in Chinese outbound tourism during Chinese New Year can also help to draw more overseas travelers to China.

"The promotion of Chinese culture in celebrations like these can make Chinese visitors welcomed and at the same time, make overseas residents more familiar with Chinese culture," Zhang said.

"In the future, I think Chinese New Year will not only be a festival in Asian countries. It has the potential to become a global festival just like Christmas."