Visit Vacaville talked international tourism Thursday morning: Representatives from businesses from across Northern California, including hotels, attended a Global Ready China seminar at the Sunrise Event Center to learn how they can attract and engage Chinese tourists.
Visit California presented information, along with Visit Vacaville and UnionPay International. The number of travelers from China grows each year, explained Walt Wang, China marketing manager for Visit California. In 2014, 1 million Chinese tourists visited the United States, and that number grew to more than 1.2 million in 2015, Wang said.
San Francisco International Airport is one of three gateways from China into the U.S. In 2018, it is expected that 1.6 million Chinese tourists will visit. Charlie Gu from CLA said the increasing number of visitors from China to the United States is by no means an accident. China’s middle class increasingly views travel as a necessary investment, especially for their child’s education. From 2011 to 2016, outbound travel from China has almost doubled, those travelers spent close to $27 billion in the United States in the last year.
Large tourist groups are still popular, but returning travelers prefer smaller groups because it offers them flexibility in their travel plans, 87 percent of Chinese travelers are younger than 40, most have a college degree or above, and they are more comfortable spending money on travel. They also share their international experience on WeChat, China’s dominant social media platform with some 700 million monthly active users.
Some businesses have seen an influx of international customers just because of social media. Returning tourists also want to go on more road trips and on “foodie tours” to try local food. Business travel from China is also growing, as well as multi-generational groups of tourists who take their children and their parents along.
China is still a relatively new travel market, Jason Pacheo, president of BRIC Marketing Group, said. He opened Visit California’s offices globally. Take effort to learn to speak a little Mandarin to accommodate hotel guests, he advised. Put up Chinese signs, especially to indicate if you accept UnionPay for payment, and make connections with local tour guides who can speak Mandarin.
The top activity for these tourists is retail, so Vacaville Premium Outlets could be a good destination. Additionally, Vacaville and the surrounding region could benefit from China’s growing market of “free independent travelers,” those who have likely traveled to the United States before and come back for a more individual experience.
These travelers want to take road trips — California Highway 1 is the most desired — visit local wineries and go on “foodie tours” to try local cuisine.