Following in the footsteps of pioneers like the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, which has actively shown its “China Readiness” both in LA and China and has seen Chinese arrivals (and spending) skyrocket, Philadelphia is looking to get in on the action. This week, the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) announced that it will add a new overseas office in China, aimed at working mostly with tour operators to add Philadelphia to itineraries—a previously tried-and-true method that is actually losing steam as more Chinese travelers book their own trips online and look for destinations and activities off the beaten path.
According to PHLCVB President and CEO Jack Ferguson, the new office is meant to boost the profile of the City of Brotherly Love “significantly in the critical Chinese market,” and attract tour guides and groups.
Currently, Philadelphia lags far behind other major American cities in Chinese tourist arrivals. The city welcomed an estimated 40,000 Chinese visitors in 2013, who spent around $122 million. Compare this to the 646,000 who visited New York or 570,000 who visited Los Angeles that year (and the 60,588 Chinese tourists who stopped in San Diego in 2013). However, Chinese guests are already the highest-spending foreign tourist demographic in Philadelphia, meaning the new efforts are starting at a point of existing momentum.
In addition to its proximity to New York City, Philadelphia has a lot going for it in terms of attracting more Chinese arrivals and greater spending. The city’s universities have already seen Chinese student numbers explode in recent years, and with those student arrivals comes an influx of cash towards not just education but real estate and luxury spending. Recent announcements like the launch of the Penn Wharton China Center at the University of Pennsylvania indicate that the city’s educational institutions have eyes set on the China market, and Philadelphia’s reasonable (compared to New York) housing prices will continue to attract Chinese buyers for the foreseeable future.