China goes after US tourists at NY trade show
Updated: 2015-01-26 09:51
By AMY HE in New York(China Daily USA)
Chinese tourism was on display at the 12th annual New York Times Travel Show on Friday at the Javits Center in Manhattan. Agencies and airlines expect US-China travel to increase with the announcement that visa validities will expand to 10 years from the previous one year. Amy He / China Daily.
China continued its push in the United States to increase tourism by Americans, with China-related tourist groups exhibiting this weekend at one of the largest tourism trade shows in the US.
Half a dozen China travel and tour groups were present at the Javits Center in New York City for the three-day event that started on Jan 23 and ended on Sunday. The New York branch of the China National Tourist Office, one of 19 overseas offices set up by the Chinese government to promote tourism in the US, was one of the sponsors of the show.
The travel show featured over 500 exhibitors from 150 countries. There were representatives from Chinese airlines, travel agencies, and tourism boards from Chinese mainland provinces and Taiwan.
Sonny Wang, who handles marketing and operations for Sunshine Travel USA, said that there has been more and more travel to China over the last few years. Sunshine Travel, whose clientele are predominantly 30-45-year-olds and retirees from the East Coast and the Midwest, said that the travel agency did notice an uptick in younger US travelers interested in going to China last year.
"Younger people traveling abroad are starting to trend; we saw this at the end of 2014. It might be due to the media exposure they have to China in the news," said Wang. Sunshine Travel helps customers book individual trips and group tours.
"Places like China and other parts of Asia have always been known as these 'exotic' locations that were difficult to get there, but now there are so many more flights. The availability of flights has created competition, which means lower prices and better benefits for the traveler," he said.
With the announcement in November that the US and China are extending short-term visas to business and leisure travelers, those at the trade show said they expect an influx of new travelers.
Yang Yifan—sales executive at China Southern Airlines, which launched the first ever New York-to-Guangzhou route last year—said that travel to China is already getting more and more convenient because of the number of added direct flights between the two countries. "But with the new visa rules, we should be seeing even more," she said.
Sunshine Travel's Wang said that the new visa extensions "will definitely positively impact business travelers who go between the two countries constantly. With the regular traveler, maybe not as much — it's not that the visa application process is easier, it just means they have to renew their visas less if they do travel to China."
The Henan Provincial Tourism Administration also presented at the show, continuing its efforts to market Henan province to the US. Evan Chan, representative of Henan Tourism, said that the province has been making a marketing push because Americans often have not heard of Henan province, and if they do, they confuse it with Hunan province or Hainan province.
Henan is known for martial arts—it's where the Shaolin Temple is located — andChan said that the tourism bureau pushes that image. "More and more people are interested in mixed martial arts, so we use the image of martial arts to raise brand recognition," Chan said. "If that's what people will recognize, that's the gateway we'll use."
The Henan tourism administration began its US marketing effort two years ago and has an office in California. It also released an English smartphone application for Android systems this week, and is anticipating the release of the application for Apple mobile devices next week.