China Goes On the Road

The China National Tourist Office is promoting travel to the Silk Road and Yangtze River in 2011 By: Deanna Ting
Shanghai’s financial district // © 2010 China Nation Tourist Office
Shanghai’s financial district // © 2010 China Nation Tourist Office

The Details

China Nation Tourist Office
This year and into 2011, the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) is hitting the road in its efforts to focus on promoting tourism to China. The CNTA, in addition to the China National Tourist Office (CNTO), is embarking on a comprehensive marketing and promotional campaign that focuses on China’s famed Silk Road and majestic Yangtze River.

“Taking advantage of this year’s successful Shanghai World Expo, we would like to send a clear message to American
travelers that China is always beyond their imagination and always has a lot more to offer as a travel destination, such as the Silk Road and Yangtze River,” said Dawei Wu, deputy director for the China National Tourist Office, Los Angeles.

Last month, a delegation of CNTA and CNTO officials traveled to Los Angeles and San Francisco to promote travel to the Yangtze River and Silk Road.

This year was indeed a banner year for tourism to China thanks in large part to the Shanghai World Expo, which took place from May 1 to Oct. 31. The expo made history as the largest World Expo site ever, encompassing approximately 1,305 acres, as well as the most expensive at an estimated cost of $504 million. Early estimates report that the expo has more than exceeded its expected visitor numbers goal of 70 million.

“Tourism in China is booming, and there is good reason why China is drawing so many visitors,” said Wu. “China is a premier travel destination, offering some of the most unique travel experiences in the world. With the World Expo in Shanghai, we are very happy to see that China is drawing many American travelers, partially thanks to our promotional
campaign earlier this year. We worked together with tour operators, trade magazines, radio, popular travel websites and other outlets to promote the Shanghai World Expo to U.S. travelers.”

According to Wu, the number of U.S. visitors to China has increased by 17 percent in the first eight months of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009. The continuing impact of the expo, said Wu, is something that the tourism administration plans to take advantage of well into 2011 and beyond.

“According to our research, the impact of the Shanghai World Expo to American travelers will last for a quite long time,” he said. “In the coming year, American tourists will still be interested in visiting Shanghai. Furthermore, they are also encouraged to make excursions to adjacent cities in the Yangtze River Delta area, which is the most urbanized region in China.”

 Wu added, “Moreover, we will focus on promoting the Yangtze River Cruise and the Silk Road. The first one is the more relaxing and comfortable route for American tourists, and the other is the more adventurous route, enabling them to experience ancient culture firsthand.”

To make the most of their visits to China, Wu suggests that agents advise their clients to approach their travels to China with an open mind and, if possible, longer stays.

“China is a vast land that differs from place to place geographically,” Wu said. “The current average stay length of American tourists is around 10 days within which people cannot see all aspects of China. China is so diversified that the American travelers can only experience three to four cities in one tour.”

Wu also noted the importance of visiting the International Horticultural Expo in Xian, as well as China’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, of which there are 40, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and the Terra-Cotta Warriors.

“The UNESCO World Heritage sites reflect China’s cultural value best,” he said.

Wu encourages agents to travel to China to see these cultural treasures for themselves.

“We will continue to invite agents on fams to provide them with the latest developments of China’s travel products,” said Wu. “In the past, we selected some places that agents are not so familiar with such as Sichuan, Shandong and the Silk Road. We got very good feedback from agents who visited those places saying that the trips were very educational and informative.”

The CNTO is also heavily investing in tools that help agents send their clients to China.

“We also offer online agent training program,” said Wu. “Agents who are interested in doing this may log on to our website, to participate. We also mail brochures, guides and maps to agents, as well as host presentations for agents.”
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