We admire these tourism boards for having the gumption to travel all the way to China to spread the word about their local communities in California, but it is going to be a tough sell to woo Chinese visitors away from Los Angeles, San Diego or San Francisco.
Hoping to sell more Chinese tourists on visiting Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, along with the rest of Orange County, California, a delegation of 14 people is heading to China for more than a week.
Two people each from the visitors bureaus for Costa Mesa and Newport are going, said Kim Glen, marketing manager for the Costa Mesa bureau.
They were supposed to get to China on Monday, but missed a connection and were hoping to arrive Tuesday instead, Glen said by phone as she waited in Los Angeles International Airport.
They’ll return Oct. 17.
While in China, the 14 Orange County ambassadors are scheduled to go to Beijing and Shanghai, meet with local travel companies and hold press conferences for Chinese reporters.
Glen said the trip is a chance to “introduce Orange County.”
“A lot of Chinese travelers, I guess, just think of it as Los Angeles, and we want to distinguish ourselves,” she said.
The top activity for Chinese tourists is shopping, Glen said, and Costa Mesa tourism officials plan to pitch South Coast Plaza.
Glen’s 10-second pitch for Orange County as a whole: “You’ve got shopping; you’ve got Disneyland; you’ve got the beach.”
The Walt Disney Co. has a representative on the trip, as do the visitors bureaus for Anaheim and Orange County.
Jeff Soto, a spokesman for Visit Newport Beach, said there’s been an increase in Chinese tourists in the past couple of years, in part because their currency is strong relative to the American dollar.
All those tourists will have to stay somewhere after shopping, beach-going and Disneylanding. So representatives of the Newport Beach Marriott and the Red Lion Hotel Anaheim are along on the trip, too.
“I think as Chinese tourism sees a huge (surge), especially in the western United States … I don’t know a hotel company that isn’t going after the market,” said Pam Scott, a spokeswoman for the Spokane, Wash.-based Red Lion Hotels Corp.
She said the company has another reason to hope.
“We understand that ‘red lion’ is a very lucky name in Chinese, so we hope that will allow us to stand out,” she said.