Chinese family travelers take to museums
We want to learn about the real life of American people and how they think of China.” A Chinese tourist
Instead of the Sunset Strip and Hollywood Boulevard, Liu Zichen, a Chinese student at a Los Angeles college, took his mother and aunt, both first-time visitors to the US, to the Getty Center, where an exhibition on Dunhuang art is on display.
“I think it’s more meaningful to spend a day at the museum, learning the stories behind those works of art and meeting people from different cultures,” said Liu, a student at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus.
Hollywood, theme parks and shopping malls still top the lists for many Chinese tourists in Los Angeles. But more family travelers are taking to activities that offer a blend of educational and cultural experiences.
“Chinese tourists give the world an impression of taking photos and only buying things on their overseas tours,” said Liu’s mother. “We will go shopping, too, but learning different cultures and experiencing new ways of life are more important. That’s the reason why we take this trip.”
The mother said the family had taken annual vacations overseas for many years, and it was those tours that helped change their mindset about tourism.
“We want to learn about the real life of American people and how they think of China,” she said. At the Getty Center, she was mostly impressed by the American audience’s interest in the Dunhuang art. “They were so attentive. Some of them even took notes,” she said.
At the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, China has overtaken Europe as the largest source of international visitors so far this year. The museum has launched a “China Ready” program, including Chineselanguage guidebooks and a docent service, in response to the rising demand.
Family travelers are seeking not only new but also more immersive experiences. There is an increasing trend for more cultural or educational travel experiences that can be shared with friends and family, according to the family targeted work plan of Visit California, a nonprofit organization that promotes California on behalf of the state’s tourism industry.
While the primary market for family travel is domestic, California has seen the economic benefits of the increasing number of international visitors with children.
Among those, Chinese families make up 25 percent, well ahead of Canada and Mexico, according to the work plan.
“We think the millennial, and potentially the younger kids, are all about personal enrichment, and there are a lot of synergies between California and young Chinese travelers that really want to discover the world,” said Leona Reed, associate vice-president of global marketing with Visit California.
“They want to make themselves better and more educated,” she said, adding that California offered the opportunity for tourists to sample different cultures.
The reason is the growth of China’s middle class, and more people can afford multiple overseas tours to seek intellectual experiences, said Charlie Gu, director of tourism with China Luxury Advisors, a Chinese consumer-strategy consultant. His firm helped launch the Chinese-language channel on WeChat for the Getty.
“The major force of overseas Chinese tourists would be those born in the 1980s and 1990s, and many of them are interested in art,” he said.
Liu Zichen (left), a Chinese student at a Los Angeles college, and his mother (right) and aunt visit the Getty Center in Los Angeles on their summer vacation.