[photopress:disneyland_hmed.jpg,full,alignright]A growing interest in tourism among Chinese who have seen their incomes rise while travel restrictions have lessened could bring a fortune to hotels, tour companies and attractions around the United States.
The number of Chinese who travel outside their homeland each year is expected to nearly triple to 100 million people by 2020. American cities and businesses are positioning themselves to profit from what they hope will be a tourist boom. They are establishing offices in China, and lobbying the government to ease restrictions on travel to the U.S.
Bruce Bommarito, vice president of international market development for the Travel Industry Association, said, ‘In the next 10 years, it will probably dwarf any overseas market we may have, with the potential to dwarf all overseas markets combined.’
It has a lot of growing to do. 320,000 Chinese — 1.5% of all overseas visitors — traveled to the U.S in 2006. Many American entrepreneurs believe that number could soon explode.
Noel Irwin Hentschel, CEO of tour operator AmericanTours International, said China will be her company’s top business focus in the coming decades. She predicted that by 2009 Chinese tourists will account for one-tenth of the roughly 1 million customers her company ferries around the United States each year.
In 2004, Nevada became the first non-nation to win approval from the Chinese government to open a tourism office there and advertise directly to the Chinese public. Los Angeles, San Francisco and Hawaii have since won permission to open offices or hire representatives. And New York hopes to in the near future.
Source: Daily Herald Chicago