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China Daily Website

Chinese eye US trip for festival

Updated: 2013-01-05 17:37
By CHEN JIA and Wang Wen ( chinadaily.com.cn)

With the most important Chinese holiday approaching in February, many Chinese have begun signing up for travel to the United States, adding to a major source of US tourism.

Chinese and US travel agents are monitoring the burgeoning market of middle-class Chinese families making trips during an otherwise slow winter season for US tourism.

The California Travel and Tourism Commission, the state's official travel promoter, and four Chinese tourism companies have launched a project to attract Spring Festival vacationers from China.

The bigger objective is to make California the top destination for Chinese travelers during Spring Festival, said commission president Caroline Beteta.

The Chinese Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, begins on Feb 10 this year and lasts a week — though it can be stretched beyond two weeks when combined with the Lantern Festival, which begins on Feb 24.

Helen Tsui, director of Asia-Pacific tourism for the San Francisco Travel Association, said China is an important and growing market for the city.

"We are one of the first destinations that established representation offices in Shanghai and Beijing more than 15 years ago," she said.

"Since last year, our Shanghai office has also been working with five leading outbound tour operators in Shanghai to launch the Western America tour package targeting the Chinese New Year holiday," she said.

Preliminary figures show that Chinese citizens made more than 80 million trips to other countries in 2012, Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy, said on Thursday.

Li Zhi, a 31-year-old engineer from Beijing, got tired of the huge crowds lining up at this time of the year in Chinese cities to buy train tickets to their hometowns.

He found he could beat the February travel rush and stay within his travel budget by taking a 12-day trip to the US.

"I'll pay for my parents' travel expenses and have a special Spring Festival with them in the United States this year," Li said.

Generous holiday spending indicates to friends and family that one is on good financial footing. "Not to mention spending the holiday in the US is very cool and worth showing off!" he exclaimed.

Meanwhile, Chinese consumers also prefer more high-end tourism products in the US, some business insiders said.

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