Cal­i­for­nia gets tourism boost in China

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By LIA ZHU in San Fran­cisco li­azhu@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Visit Cal­i­for­nia, the state’s tourism board, re­cently part­nered with China’s ma­jor on­line travel agency Tu­niu Corp to reach out to more tourists in China.

The part­ner­ship, more than a year in the mak­ing, rep­re­sents a ma­jor stride in cre­at­ing de­mand for Cal­i­for­nia as a des­ti­na­tion among Chi­nese trav­el­ers, said Visit Cal­i­for­nia.

The “com­pre­hen­sive” cam­paign by the two sides will in­clude travel pack­ages, pub­lic re­la­tions and con­sumer mar­ket­ing with the in­tent to in­spire Chi­nese con­sumers “to bring their dreams to life in Cal­i­for­nia”, said Caro­line Beteta, CEO of Visit Cal­i­for­nia.

As part of the cam­paign, pop star Jay Chou — of­ten called “the Justin Tim­ber­lake of Asia” — was in­vited to star in a series of com­mer­cials in which he trav­els across Cal­i­for­nia, as­sist­ing trav­el­ers along the way and chron­i­cling his jour­ney.

Many of Cal­i­for­nia’s des­ti­na­tions and at­trac­tions are fea­tured in the series, in­clud­ing Santa Mon­ica, Santa Bar­bara and Dis­ney Cal­i­for­nia.

The co- branded Tu­niu tele­vi­sion cam­paign will run through 2017. In the first quar­ter, the cam­paign will fo­cus on out-of-home ad­ver­tis­ing, pop­u­lar even­ing shows and TV and on­line TV Chi­nese New Year cel­e­bra­tion pro­grams.

In the sec­ond and third quar­ters, Tu­niu will spend “heavy mar­ket­ing dol­lars” tar­get­ing sum­mer and the Na­tional Day Golden Week be­gin­ning Oct 1, peak travel pe­ri­ods in the Chi­nese mar­ket, Visit Cal­i­for­nia said, with­out dis­clos­ing how much the com­pany will in­vest in the cam­paign.

To ap­peal to more po­ten­tial tourists, es­pe­cially re­peat ones, Visit Cal­i­for­nia is work­ing with Tu­niu to de­velop four new statewide group travel itin­er­ar­ies and pack­ages for in­de­pen­dent travel.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion said a large com­po­nent of the Chi­nese travel land­scape are tour op­er­a­tors like Tu­niu as­sist­ing trav­el­ers in cre­at­ing has­sle-free itin­er­ar­ies with flights, ho­tels and other ar­range­ments like tick­ets to at­trac­tions and rental cars pack­aged to­gether.

More than 70 per­cent of Chi­nese travel to Cal­i­for­nia was booked through tour op­er­a­tors and re­tail agen­cies, with the top 20 travel agents — in­clud­ing Tu­niu — han­dling more than 80 per­cent of out­bound pack­age tours, ac­cord­ing to Visit Cal­i­for­nia.

“China is Cal­i­for­nia’s num­ber one overseas mar­ket, and this part­ner­ship with Tu­niu cre­ates yet an­other crit­i­cal link between Chi­nese trav­el­ers and our state’s many vi­brant des­ti­na­tions,” said Beteta.

Travel and tourism is one of Cal­i­for­nia’s most sig­nif­i­cant in­dus­tries.

Spend­ing by trav­el­ers to­taled $122.5 bil­lion in 2015, with Chi­nese vis­i­tors ac­count­ing for nearly $2.6 bil­lion, ex­pected to grow to more than $4.8 bil­lion by 2020.

REUTERS / CHRIS WAT­TIE

Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau (cen­ter) works on a piece of stone dur­ing an event mark­ing the com­ple­tion of ma­sonry work on West Block on Par­lia­ment Hill in Ot­tawa on Wed­nes­day.

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