Los Angeles attracts record number of Chinese tourists

World Today

Los Angeles reported a record number of Chinese visitors. That follows years of a major campaign by city officials.

An effort aimed at luring more Chinese tourists to a place known for its glitz and glamour. CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.

Last year, some 1.2 million Chinese tourists came here to Los Angeles to visit more than ever before.

“This is one of our great successes here in Los Angeles,” Ernie Wooden, who overseas the city’s tourism bureau, said. “LA is quite the aspirational place to go.’LoSanJi’. And the Chinese hope that one day, on their bucket list, that they’re gonna come.”

10-year-old Dong Yijun was thrilled his family didn’t make him wait too long. “I think America is fantastic, and I love Los Angeles,” said the young boy. “Because it’s beautiful and I think it’s great.”

The city’s “China Ready” program helps local businesses customize their services to visitors from China.

“The Chinese tourist is unlike any other tourist in the world. Their interests are different. What they do when they come here is different. For example, if you’re from Germany or France, one of the first things you’ll do after you unpack is you go to the beach for a tan. Not the Chinese,” Wooden explained.

Instead, he said, they go shopping. “They stay longer, they spend more money, and they spend money on luxury goods,” he added. Last year, Chinese tourists contributed $1.5 billion to LA’s economy.

“The communication between China and America is more active. We come here because our daughter studies here,” Su Pinghang, another Chinese tourist, said.

One of must-see stops for any tourist, especially one coming from China, is on Hollywood Boulevard. The landmark Chinese Theatre, built by Americans nearly one hundred years ago, was intentionally designed as homage to Chinese design. Hong Kong-born director John Woo’s handprints are among those that grace the theatre’s famous entrance.

It’s not by chance that more Chinese are coming to LA. Over the last decade, the city had set-up tourism offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and, most recently, Chengdu. As a result, a third of Chinese tourists now coming to the U.S. are coming to LA.

“We are now looking at opening a fifth office in China – yet to be announced – but we are very much interested in getting deeper into central China,” Wooden said. Getting them to LA is one thing. But amid the growing competition of places to go, getting them to come back is another.