SF museum taps Chinese tourism market

Updated: 2016-04-04 18:21

By LIA ZHU in San Francisco(chinadaily.com.cn)

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SF museum taps Chinese tourism market

Jay Xu, director of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, introduces an upcoming exhibition, Emperors' Treasures, which is expected to be a major attraction of visitors from China, at a press conference on March 31 at the museum. LIA ZHU / CHINA DAILY

The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco has joined many other tourist attractions and shopping malls by launching a "China Ready" program to tap the growing Chinese tourist market.

The program includes providing Chinese language services, such as Chinese language audio tours or docent services, free visitor guides and apps in Chinese as well as Asian cuisine at the museum's restaurant.

The museum also launched its WeChat channel last month to promote the museum among Chinese.

"We are proud to be the first museum in California to launch an account on the WeChat channel," said Ami Tseng, director of marketing and brand of the Asian Art Museum, on March 31.

"Right now, we just have information about the museum on WeChat. In the future, we are hoping to incorporate additional services such as audio tours so people can use their phones to learn the key pieces of our collection," she said.

As a major gateway for Chinese visitors to the United States, San Francisco has been receiving a growing number of tourists from China. Chinese visitors to San Francisco spent $813 million in 2015, according to the San Francisco Travel Association.

Tourism marketing agencies, like Visit California and the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, have launched similar "China Ready" programs to help the tourism industry better serve the Chinese travelers.

At the Asian Art Museum, the Chinese visitors have overtaken French, British and Germany visitors as the largest source of international visitors in the past six months, Tseng said.

Summer is the peak season for Chinese visitors, and the museum is ready to welcome more Chinese tourists with a few rare exhibitions, including the current China at the Center, two 400-year-old maps crafted by European Jesuit missionaries and Chinese scholars in the 17th century, and the upcoming Emperors' Treasures, rare masterpieces collected or created by Chinese emperors, said Jay Xu, director of the Asian Art Museum.

The Emperors' Treasures, on display from June 17 through Sept 18, explore the identities of nine rulers — eight emperors and one empress — who reigned from the early 12th through early 20th centuries.

It's the first time that more than 100 pieces of the 181 exhibits will be presented in the US on loan from the Palace Museum of Taiwan.

Highlights include a vase from the official Ru ware of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), one of the only two surviving blue-and-white Ming vases depicting West Asian entertainers; the "holy grail" of Chinese porcelains, a cup with a chicken design, and the White Falcon painting by Italian Jesuit Giuseppe Castiglione.

In addition, the celebrated "meat-shaped stone" will travel to the US for the first time. The jasper stone was intricately carved into a mouthwatering shape of a braised pork belly.

"The strong growth of the Chinese tourist market offers a great opportunity. The China Ready program will help inspire more Chinese tourists to visit our museum and share the masterpieces from Asian countries," Xu said.