Chinese Tourists - US Travel Industry Caters to Visitors from China

December 09, 2011
US Travel Industry Caters to Chinese Tourists
Elizabeth Lee | Los Angeles - VOA

More and more people from China are traveling abroad as tourists. The number of Chinese travellers is growing so fast that Hilton Hotels hired the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies to conduct a study on Chinese tourists. Results of the study have helped Hilton to tailor many of its hotels around the world for its new guests from China.

Breakfast at the Los Angeles San Gabriel Hilton hotel is the first taste of the United States for many of the people staying here. About 70 percent of the guests are from China. Many of them are surprised by what is on the menu.

In addition to the traditional American breakfast foods of bacon and eggs, the kitchen also offers fried rice, dumplings, and other traditional Chinese breakfast foods. It is a welcome surprise for Zhou Yian, a tour guide from China.

"I feel touched," said Yian. "I'm just feeling like there isn't much difference from home."

She says breakfast is not the only surprise. There are also several Chinese television channels in her room.

The perks are a part of Hilton Hotels' new program to attract travelers from China. More than 50 Hilton hotels around the world are a part of the hotel chain's program called Hilton Huanying, meaning "welcome" in Chinese. Participating hotels also offer slippers, Chinese teas and tea kettles in the rooms, a letter in Chinese and a Chinese speaking staff.

The majority of the staff at the Hilton Hotel in the Financial District of San Francisco is Chinese says general manager Kevin O'Brien.

"We've always been focused on the China market. This year it's grown really exponentially for us," said O'Brien.

According to a study by the University of London in 2010, more than 57 million tourists from China traveled outside the Mainland. That's a 20 percent increase from the year before.

The report also finds that China's growing middle class, combined with more relaxed visa requirements in many countries around the world, has made it easier for many people from urban parts of China to travel outside the country.

The majority of Chinese tourists are traveling to Asian countries because of cost and convenience. However, there is a growing number of Chinese tourists who are flying to other parts of the world, and the United States is one of their top destinations.

Tour guide Zhou Yian says there are two reasons why Chinese tourists are choosing the U.S.

"First the Chinese Yuan is stronger against the U.S. dollar, so it's a better deal when you go shopping in the U.S.," noted Zhou Yian. "The second reason, the U.S. is the strongest country in the world so tourists want to visit."

She says one of the biggest attractions in the U.S. is shopping, even for items that are made in China.

"Many foreign companies have factories in China, but the standards are better for the items they sell overseas than in China. They have to maintain a global standard," Zhou Yian added.

Whether it's shopping or sightseeing, the travel agencies say they expect more and more Chinese tourists to travel to foreign countries in the next 10 years.

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