Santa Barbara, CA (Oct. 15, 2015) — China is the No. 1 overseas tourist market in California, with more than one million visitors to the state in 2014*, according to the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, the United States’ national tourism office for research and policy. With an 80 percent increase in Chinese visitors projected over the next four years, this market shows no sign of slowing down. The Central Coast has proven a popular destination for Chinese travelers. The question is: Is the local hospitality industry ready?
To prepare area businesses for the increase in travelers and maximize the opportunities represented by this market, Visit Santa Barbara is hosting a free “China Ready” workshop from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tues., Oct. 20 at Belmond El Encanto resort, 800 Alvarado Place in Santa Barbara, in conjunction with Visit California and UnionPay International. The hospitality industry is invited to learn more about the needs of this important travel market and tools for effectively doing business with Chinese travelers.
Front-line employees, managers, marketing and sales staff or anyone interested in learning how to better understand and serve Chinese visitors may benefit from this presentation. To register for the program, visit http://industry.visitcalifornia.com/Market-Strategy/global-ready/.
Over the next 12 months, Visit Santa Barbara is also carrying out initiatives to attract smaller groups and more affluent travelers from China. The destination marketing organization will host members of China’s travel trade and media industries on familiarization trips and press trips, participate in sales missions to China, and create and distribute a marketing brochure about Santa Barbara in Mandarin, among other efforts.
The Central Coast is the highest-rated California destination among Chinese travelers (75 percent), ahead of popular gateway regions like the San Francisco Bay Area (74 percent) and Los Angeles County (70 percent), according to a 2012 study by Hall & Partners, a research agency. Santa Barbara is well situated to attract China’s younger travelers (ages 24 to 40) who are more likely to choose long-distance travel destinations. The region also offers activities that Chinese visitors prefer: shopping (85 percent), sightseeing (78 percent), fine dining (48 percent) and natural parks (37 percent), according to Visit California.
The Chinese visitor market continues to outpace all other overseas markets in California with an astonishing 24.8 percent increase in visitors in 2014 and 1.8 million projected to visit the state in 2018. The increase is not just in visitation, but spending as well. Chinese visitors spent $2.5 billion in California in 2014 (a 32.7 percent increase over 2013). This is three times the spending from California’s No. two and No. three overseas markets – the United Kingdom and Japan.
ABOUT VISIT SANTA BARBARA
Visit Santa Barbara is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization jointly funded by the City of Santa Barbara, the County of Santa Barbara, the South Coast Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) and by a membership of hospitality-related businesses. The primary mission of Visit Santa Barbara is to enhance the economies of the City of Santa Barbara, South Coast communities and Santa Barbara County areas through tourism marketing that increases business revenue, tax revenue and creates jobs. In 2013, 6.1 million people visited the Santa Barbara South Coast, putting $1.5 billion into the local economy via visitor-related spending. This resulted in $45.8 million in annual tax revenues for the Santa Barbara South Coast.
*the most recent year for which statistics are available