Year of the Chinese tourist – II

The New York Times today has a report out of Bangkok, Thailand on the explosive growth of Chinese tourism in China’s neighboring countries and, increasingly, in the rest of the world including the United States.

Almost exactly a month ago, on April 18th, this site noted the woefully inadequate attempts by the US – a prime destination for the Chinese – to attract Chinese tourists not the least of which is the bureaucratic hurdle, if not wall, Chinese have to scale to obtain a visa. The Times report notes (also mentioned here last month) that the Europeans have adjusted and, indeed, embraced Chinese tourism – while the US lags far behind – by rolling out guide books in the Chinese language and providing “Chinese-language aids, or food or something so simple as hot water in rooms for tea”.

The hospitality industry can and must take an active role in fostering change and not allow governmental inertia to hobble it. For starters, presence in Chinese tourism trade shows including related events like equipment shows, can be encouraged. Parts of Florida, in recognition of the German tourist, have for decades, had signs in German in hotels and even on the highways. For the US, language ought to be the least important barrier as there is certainly no dearth of Chinese-American talent to lead the way there. Hotels in gateway cities like Orlando, New York and San Francisco can start with, at a minimum, a website in Mandarin and ensure that search engine optimization efforts are also directed at GuGe and Baidu.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.