Chinese tourists among biggest Christmas spenders in US

December 24th, 2010 - 2:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing/New York, Dec 24 (IANS) New York and Hawaii are among the most popular Christmas holiday destinations among Chinese this year as tour operators rush to grab a pie of this lucrative business by doling out special discounts for the visitors who are among the biggest spenders in the US.The number of Chinese tourists to the US is set to hit the one million mark by the end of this year and will cross the two million mark in 2015, the National Tourism Administration of China said.

United Airlines, Disneyland Park in California, also one of the favourite cities in the US among the Chinese, California Travel and Tourism Commission and the Hawaii Tourism Authority, among others, have unveiled exciting tour packages for the visitors, reports China Daily.

China was the world’s fourth largest source of outbound tourists in 2009, with over 47 million tourists, the World Tourism Organization said. The figure was up four percent year-on-year, it said.

Christopher Heywood, vice-president of travel and tourism public relations of NYC & Company, said the Chinese tourists are among the big spenders in the US. Last year, they spent $236 million, he said.

“The American tours for the coming holidays are the most luxurious and the comfortable ones since the US became a tourist destination for Chinese in 2008,” said Liu Chuang, manager of the American marketing department of byecity.com, one of the biggest online tour agencies in China.

Guo Jianing, vice-general manager of Total Travel International Travel Services Co. Ltd., said his company saw a 30 percent increase in outbound tourists this year, thanks to the rise in personal income and depreciation of the dollar.

Jiang Yiyi, from the centre for recreation and tourism research at Peking University, said outbound tourists are generally well-educated, aged 25-44 and have a monthly income of at least 5,000-yuan ($750).

“They speak English and use the internet. These tourists are also willing to try new things,” she said.

Her study shows that most Chinese spend more on shopping than on transport, accommodation and food on overseas trips.

Macy’s, a chain of departmental stores headquartered in New York, says that of its 10 discount cards in various languages, the one in Chinese has the highest sales per transaction, with each worth nearly $200.

“Chinese consumers love to buy bags, shoes and make-up,” Brian Chuan of Macy’s was quoted as saying by the newspaper Thursday.

Lou Yun, 27, who works in a New Jersey law firm, said the service in departmental stores is much better than in China. It’s “very welcoming in the fancy stores, you will not experience the same in China. They seem arrogant and cold,” he said.

Lou said the attitude toward Asians has changed in the US in recent years, “probably because of their enormous spending power”.

In addition, more and more Mandarin-speaking people have been hired to help Chinese tourists in stores and tourist attractions. Some ATMs even provide services to China UnionPay cardholders.

“You don’t have to be worried even if you can’t speak English, because there are people who can speak Chinese and are always available to help you out,” said Shi Yi, a Chinese tourist.

The Empire State Building in New York has audio tours in Mandarin.

“We recognize the importance of the Chinese market by taking consideration of their special needs,” said Jean-Yves Ghazi, director of the Empire State Observatory.

The building attracts over 3.5 million visitors a year, with about 200,000 Chinese. It also hosts special events such as lighting-up the top of the building in red and gold — the Chinese colours of prosperity and good luck — to honour the Spring Festival, according to the newspaper.

Top US hotels are wooing Chinese by offering special services. For instance, the Marriott Marquis in Times Square has a Chinese breakfast and facilities for guests to brew tea in their room, it said.

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