Washington pitched to tourist

Updated: 2015-03-16 06:39

By XIAO LIXIN in Beijing(China Daily USA)

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Washington pitched to tourist

The Washington Monument is seen behind cherry blossoms in April 2014 on the edge of the Tidal Basin in Washington, capital of the United States. More than 1.5 million visitors descend upon Washington each year to admire the 3,000-plus trees. Yin Bogu/ Xinhua

Washington is ready to welcome more Chinese visitors for MICE tourism — that's "Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions" — according to Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC, a private non-profit that supports the DC travel and tourism sector.

"China remains one of the most important markets for Washington," Ferguson said during a seminar tour of Beijing and Shanghai this week. "In fact, China has been the No 1 inbound international market for Washington DC since 2013."

In 2013, the total amount of inbound Chinese travelers to the city reached 164,000, spending about $67 million, he said. It was the first time China overtook the UK to become the largest international tourist source for DC. Overall tourist spending in DC in 2013 reached $6.7 billion.

"In our great city a lot of new development is happening," he said. "We have invested $8 billion in rebuilding museums, hotels and new areas for shopping and restaurants."

Recommended by Lonely Planet as the world's No 1 destination for Best of Travel 2015 and the "coolest destination" by Forbes, the city of Washington is far more than the political center of the US, he said.

"The city provides many attractive facets for travelers, from more than 200 free scenic spots such as museums and memorials, to art galleries, top-rated restaurants and wonderful choices for night life," said Clare Hogan, international convention development coordinator for Destination DC. "Every year around April, we have a cherry blossom festival, which is a must-see activity for visitors coming to DC in the spring."

"We have a wonderful conventions and meetings facility — the Walter E. Washington Convention Center — which is located in the heart of DC with its own subway station and designed to handle events of all sizes with 70 meeting rooms. It's an ideal venue for MICE," she added.

Hogan also discussed some of the incentive programs Destination DC offers.

"If you have a meeting or conference in DC, you will receive a badge, which you can show to local restaurants or attractions to receive free meals or discounts," she said.

Air China started direct flights between Beijing and Washington DC in June of 2014, flying on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday every week, so it has become more convenient for Chinese tourists to visit the capital.

The InterContinental Hotels Group, according to Connie Zhang, key account manager of IHG Greater China, has introduced a series of "China-ready hotels" in the US, specially tailored for Chinese guests.

"Apart from service, brochures and instructions in Mandarin, hotels within this program will also provide Chinese-style breakfast and tea, electric kettles, slippers and dental kits, as well as Chinese TV program from CCTV and Phoenix TV," said Zhang.

"Also, we offer regular training of Chinese culture and language for our staff to better cater to Chinese guests' habits."