California gets tourism boost in China
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.
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.