With a large number of Americans still feeling the sting of the economic doldrums, the U.S. is banking on a hope that tourists from China will come to this country and spend money on products that were probably made in China.
The Washington Post cites the story of one Beijing resident who just completed a two-week trip to the U.S., during which he visited Yellowstone, Houston and L.A. — and more importantly, spent around $8,000 on everything from rental cars and hotels to two laptops to baby food and formula.
He tells the Post that prices here in the States are a lot cheaper for these items than at home in China.
“For that price in China, you can’t even buy counterfeits,” he says about a $25 pair of Adidas sneakers.
From the White House to the retail level, folks are realizing the potential jackpot in tourism from countries like China, India and Brazil, all of which have seen growth in their Gross Domestic Products while the rest of the world faltered.
Writes the Washington Post:
Over the summer, President Obama’s jobs council deemed international travel among the “low-hanging fruit” for stimulating the economy. The Corporation for Travel Promotion, a public-private partnership created by Congress last year, will announce next month the first U.S. advertising campaign to promote the nation as a tourist destination. Rebecca Blank, the acting commerce secretary, called tourism a key component of “America’s exports success story.”
That’s because even though foreign shoppers are spending money in the United States, their purchases are counted as exports on the country’s balance sheet. This year, their spending is up 13 percent compared with last year, to nearly $87 billion.
Chinese spending on travel to the U.S. was up 39% in 2010 to $5 billion. Brazil was up 30% to $6 billion and India increased 12% to $4 billion during the same time period.
In an effort to lure Chinese travelers, the Nevada Commission on Tourism recently managed to get the state to play host to the semifinal round of the Miss Chinese Cosmos beauty pageant. The 7-day event broadcast to 225 million TV viewers back in China and showed the contestants touring various sites that could be of interest to tourists.
“Part of it is the education for the Chinese of all that Nevada has,” said the tourism commission’s interim director. “The exposure potentially is huge.”
At the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas, foreign tourists receive special coupon books and have the use of Mandarin-speaking customer service representatives, along with a phone hotline that can handle 150 languages. As a result, tour bus business is up 300% in just a year.
Nevada Congressman Joseph J. Heck recently introduced a bill that could trim the waiting time for a tourist visa to 12 days. And the State Department says it is adding a “significant” number of staffers in Brazil and China to keep up with demand.
To boost flagging economy, U.S. wants to import more shoppers [Washington Post]