China South­ern teams up to boost tourism

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

China South­ern Air­lines, the world’s fourth-largest air­line and the largest in Asia, has joined hands with Visit Cal­i­for­nia, an in­dus­try-funded tourism board, to boost the in­flux of Chi­nese trav­el­ers to Cal­i­for­nia.

Un­der an agree­ment signed by the two sides last week in San Fran­cisco, the air­line and board will jointly com­mit $1 mil­lion to fund mar­ket­ing pro­grams in China, in­clud­ing special fes­ti­val pro­mo­tions and brand­ing cam­paigns.

It will en­able Visit Cal­i­for­nia and China South­ern Air­lines to part­ner on di­rect-to-con­sumer travel trade and public re­la­tions ini­tia­tives in China.

The agree­ment is Visit Cal­i­for­nia’s first co­op­er­a­tive mar­ket­ing agree­ment with a Chi­nese air­line and China South­ern’s first deal with a US des­ti­na­tion. It fol­lows a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing signed by the two or­ga­ni­za­tions in May 2016 at China South­ern Air­lines head­quar­ters in Guangzhou.

“This deal marks an im­por­tant mile­stone in strength­en­ing the con­nec­tion be­tween two eco­nomic pow­er­houses — China and Cal­i­for­nia,” said Caroline Beteta, pres­i­dent and CEO of Visit Cal­i­for­nia. “Our in­vest­ment in China is es­sen­tial to en­sur­ing Cal­i­for­nia re­mains a top travel des­ti­na­tion and that Cal­i­for­nia’s tourism in­dus­try con­tin­ues to thrive.”

Vis­i­tors from China play a sig­nif­i­cant role in fu­el­ing the state’s eco­nomic growth. The joint mar­ket­ing ef­forts will in­crease vis­i­ta­tion by boost­ing Cal­i­for­nia’s vis­i­bil­ity in China, par­tic­u­larly in the south­ern re­gion of the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to Beteta.

Given the great eco­nomic power and un­tapped po­ten­tial of Chi­nese vis­i­tors, Visit Cal­i­for­nia’s in­vest­ment in China has grown from $500,000 in 2008 to nearly $10 mil­lion in less than a decade.

Cal­i­for­nia is among the most popular des­ti­na­tions in the US for Chi­nese tourists. China South­ern launched its first di­rect flight to the US in 1997 be­tween Guangzhou and Los An­ge­les.

The air­line added two flights — Guangzhou-WuhanSan Fran­cisco and Guangzhou-San Fran­cisco — in 2014 and 2015, re­spec­tively, bring­ing its to­tal num­ber of flights be­tween Cal­i­for­nia and China to 18 a week.

The com­pany said it ex­pects the part­ner­ship with Visit Cal­i­for­nia to bring more trav­el­ers to Cal­i­for­nia on South­ern Air­lines’ planes and that they will con­tinue in­vest­ment in Cal­i­for­nia and North Amer­ica to meet the in­creas­ing de­mand of air travel be­tween China and the US.

Last year, Cal­i­for­nia wel­comed 1.1 mil­lion Chi­nese tourists who col­lec­tively spent a record $2.5 bil­lion in the state. The state has seen an 899 per­cent growth in Chi­nese vis­i­tors in the last 10 years and the num­ber of Chi­nese tourists to Cal­i­for­nia is ex­pected to ex­ceed 1.8 mil­lion by 2018.

As the fastest grow­ing tourism mar­ket to Cal­i­for­nia, China is ex­pected to over­take Canada soon as the largest in­ter­na­tional mar­ket to the state.

Tourism is a key pil­lar of Cal­i­for­nia’s econ­omy, di­rectly sup­port­ing more than 1 mil­lion Cal­i­for­nia jobs and gen­er­at­ing a record $9.9 bil­lion in state and lo­cal tax rev­enue last year, ac­cord­ing to Visit Cal­i­for­nia.

“Travel and tourism is one of Cal­i­for­nia’s most sig­nif­i­cant and in­no­va­tive in­dus­tries that sup­port the state as a grow­ing global eco­nomic leader,” said Cal­i­for­nia state Assem­bly mem­ber Kansen Chu.

Smart part­ner­ships, like the agree­ment be­tween Visit Cal­i­for­nia and China South­ern Air­lines, will grow Cal­i­for­nia’s tourism econ­omy and sup­port the Cal­i­for­nia dream for years to come, said Chu, who also chairs the state Assem­bly’s com­mit­tee on arts, en­ter­tain­ment, sports, tourism and in­ter­net me­dia.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Caroline Beteta (left, stand­ing), pres­i­dent and CEO of Visit Cal­i­for­nia, shakes hands with Guo Jianye, di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Com­mer­cial Steer­ing Com­mit­tee at China South­ern Air­lines, while Leona Reed (left, front), as­so­ciate vice-pres­i­dent of Global Mar­ket­ing at Visit Cal­i­for­nia, signs an MOU with Zhu Jian­guang, vice-di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Com­mer­cial Steer­ing Com­mit­tee at China South­ern Air­lines, last week at the San Fran­cisco In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

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