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NY announces tourism offices in deal with China

2007-06-27 10:39:38Source:Shanghai DailyAuthor:

New York City officials have reached a deal with the Chinese government to join a select group of US tourist destinations with permission to promote themselves in China, according to The Associated Press.

Under the agreement, the city will not be able to advertise directly to Chinese citizens, but will hire industry representatives to work with local travel agencies and other providers, George Fertitta, CEO of the city's tourism office, said in advance of a formal announcement scheduled tomorrow in Shanghai.

"The mandate for us is to fish where the fish are," Fertitta said. "The Asia market is a very important market for us."

The NYC & Company head was to be in Japan today as part of a weeklong Asian tour to announce the launch of operations in Shanghai, Tokyo and in Seoul, South Korea. The openings, part of an expansion announced this year, were meant to help reach New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's goal of bringing 50 million tourists to the city each year by 2015.

With the addition of the three new cities, NYC & Company will have doubled its worldwide presence this year to 14 international locations. The other cities added to the roster since January are Madrid, Moscow, Amsterdam and Stockholm.

With the number of Chinese traveling from the mainland each year expected to nearly triple to 100 million people by 2020, New York is eager to profit from the burgeoning tourist boom.

The representation in Shanghai is meant in part to help position the city for an anticipated agreement between US officials and China that would further ease Chinese travel to the United States, Fertitta said.

"When that happens, we want to make sure that everyone sees that our arms are wide open for the Chinese travelers," said Fertitta, who is charged with growing an industry that already brings an estimated US$24 billion into the city each year.

The launch in Tokyo is meant in part to counteract the recent slide in the number of Japanese visiting New York, Fertitta said. From 1999 to 2005, the yearly count of Japanese visitors dropped by 30 percent to 299,000, and NYC & Company hopes to convince locals that the city is worth a return trip.

Visitors to the city from South Korea, on the other hand, more than doubled from 2000 to 228,000 in 2005. South Korea's growing economy makes Seoul a logical choice for NYC & Company's expansion, Fertitta said.

And with the China deal, New York is hoping to capitalize on increased interest in tourism among the Chinese as travel restrictions there have lessened and income has soared. The city is a popular destination: Of the roughly 400,000 travelers who visited the US from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong in 2005, one-third made a stop in New York.

Local businesses certainly stand to profit from any growth, with Chinese visitors to the US spending about US$5,800 per person -- more than residents of any other nation except India, according to the US Department of Commerce. The Japanese are also among the top-ten international spenders.

NYC & Company also plans to target the biggest spenders -- with another location in India slotted to launch by next year, Fertitta said.

With the deal in China, New York City joins San Francisco, Los Angeles, Nevada and Hawaii, which have already opened offices or hired representatives there.

Such individual arrangements are necessary because China has not awarded the US "approved destination status," a designation that would facilitate group travel to the US and allow tourism advertising directly to the Chinese public.


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