October 1, 2014

Tourism

A Great Wall of Tourists

| 5/1/2006
The China-Florida tourism connection is somewhat tenuous. One tangible link snapped in 2003, when the Chinese government closed the Splendid China theme park it operated near Walt Disney World and sold the 73-acre park site. Meanwhile, compared to the 1.5 million British tourists who visit Florida each year, the number of Chinese visitors to the state has remained so negligible that Visit Florida, Florida's public-private tourism agency, says it is too small to track.

National trends aren't much better. Hotelier J.W. Marriott noted recently that while the number of Chinese travelers has tripled over the past five years, Chinese travel to America has declined by about 5% each year.

But with China's economy in high gear, its 1.3 billion citizens have begun to amass wealth, and their government has begun to relax travel restrictions. Visit Florida senses a business opportunity. The economic calculus? With an estimated 8% of mainland China's population planning to take an international leisure or business trip in the next 12 months, capturing even a small percentage would be lucrative for the state.

With representatives from Walt Disney World and convention and visitors bureaus from Orlando/Orange County, the Space Coast, Miami and Palm Beach County, Visit Florida collaborated on an exhibit at the Beijing International Travel & Tourism Market and met with Chinese tour operators in April. The tourism marketing group is planning to follow up with two-week trips enabling Florida tourism-related businesses to cultivate the Chinese market.

? Wooing the Chinese
About 325,879 Chinese visited the U.S. in 2004 -- 123,335 from Hong Kong and 202,544 from mainland China. Some 49% of the visitors went to California and 29% to New York. About 18%, or 60,000 Chinese, traveled to Southern states on the Atlantic, including Florida.
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce

Visit Florida, working closely with a consulting firm specializing in the Chinese market, also is promoting the state with a series of articles in Chinese travel publications featuring Florida's beaches, theme parks and weather.

Tags: Dining & Travel, Around Florida

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