Choose Chicago is promoting the city’s Lunar New Year celebrations, museums, outdoor activities and shopping to attract more tourists from China, its largest source of international visitors in 2013. The tourism bureau this week met with travel agencies and airlines in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, with both sides brainstorming themed tours for Chinese visitors. For instance, promoting Chicago as a food capital to draw visitors from Guangzhou, China’s gourmet capital.
Chicago is also dangling exclusive discounts on airfares, accommodation and shopping for the second time, applicable for the Lunar New Year period that falls around February 17 next year. Marketing wise, Choose Chicago has launched a three-month campaign to promote travel products such as hotels and flights through Chinese tour operators’ online channels. Chinese celebrity Qin Lan will also visit Chicago and share her experiences through the media.
In October, Choose Chicago will also launch a marketing campaign, promoting US brands that were once only focused on the domestic market to international audiences like China. Choose Chicago established a new office in Guangzhou last year, the third in China after Beijing and Shanghai. Don Welsh, president and chief executive of the tourism bureau, remarked that the city hosted numerous tradeshows and a US-China summit, which attracted a lot of Chinese inbound traffic.
Group tourists make up the majority of Chinese tourists to Chicago, while FITs are a small but steadily expanding faction. Interstate travel by car is also growing. Last year, Chicago saw 1.8 million Chinese arrivals or a 22 per cent year-on-year increase. The US city expects to welcome more than 50 million international visitors in 2015.