California’s tourism board and businesses have been going to great lengths to attract and impress high-spending Chinese travelers in hopes of generating tourism revenue for the state. Their wishes were granted last week when the largest-ever Chinese tour delegation to the United States arrived in Los Angeles for a vacation filled with sun, fun, and—of course—shopping.
The group was comprised of 7,000 employees of Perfect (China) Company, a direct-marketing company with a focus on health food, household goods, and beauty products. The visit comprised trips to Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, and other West Coast destinations, and generated an estimated $85 million for the Anaheim area. Activities included visits to shopping centers and Disneyland, as well as an enormous banquet at the Anaheim Convention Center for all members of the trip.
Perfect (China) Vice-Chairman Xu Guowei discussed the sheer magnitude of the delegation, stating, “We have taken 86 flights, stayed in 26 hotels, and according to UnionPay, our group attendees have spent $10,000 each this visit. We are making history.”
One mall that especially benefited from the trip was the upscale South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Orange County, which welcomed 34 vans of 1,700 visitors from the delegation. In order to give them a warm greeting, the shopping center rolled out a red carpet, served pastries, and stationed stilt walkers at the entrance. According to the Orange County Register:
South Coast officials see it as a unique chance for the luxury shopping center to make an impression with thousands of affluent Chinese travelers. The goal was for the Chinese visitors to be so charmed they would go home and tell all their friends that Orange County is a must-see U.S. destination.
“The biggest thing is this take-home memory,” said Werner Escher, South Coast Plaza’s executive director of domestic and international markets.
As the first shopping mall in the United States to accept China UnionPay, South Coast Plaza has made significant efforts to attract Chinese visitors over the years. The shopping center also features a Chinese-language website, Weibo account, and recent catalog with luxury items worn by top Chinese model Sun Fei Fei.
California’s tourism board has also actively courted Chinese visitors. It has created a special “China Ready” educational platform to help businesses better serve Chinese travelers, and last year enlisted Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan for a marketing campaign. In addition, Los Angeles opened its second tourism office in China last year.
Trips by direct-sales companies to reward successful sellers are not uncommon in China, and this recent one wasn’t even the largest this year. In April, a massive group of 16,000 Chinese tourists sponsored by direct-sales beauty company Nu Skin arrived in the United Arab Emirates for a 10-day trip.