Arizona could see an influx in Chinese tourists

Due to China’s strong economy and growing middle class, the country has become the world’s biggest market source for tourism.

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), China spent $261 billion in 2016 international tourism expenditures and the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) reports that since 2012, the number of Chinese visitors to Arizona has increased by 62 percent.

AOT reports that in 2017 Chinese travelers spent 81,400 nights in Arizona alone.

The recent uptick in interest from Chinese tourists has attracted attention from the AOT because of its effect on the state’s economy.  

According to Becky Blaine, AOT Deputy Director, AOT is helping businesses become “China ready.”

At our annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism we conducted a “China Readiness” seminar so municipalities and businesses could learn more about engaging travelers from this market,” said Blaine. “Attendees learned how to work with Chinese tour operators, how to engage on online forums, how to train their staffs to be China friendly, and how to go about translating their website into simplified Chinese.”

On the other hand, AOT has started marketing Arizona on Chinese media platforms.  

During the past fiscal-year the office conducted trade and media missions in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu; launched an Arizona channel on the Chinese social channel WeChat; and hosted a webinar for tourism partners who wanted to learn more about integrating Chinese mobile-payment systems into their businesses, Blaine said.

Arizona is a welcoming destination because of its accessibility and year-round weather. It is also a popular destination for Chinese travelers because of the mix of natural, urban, historic and cultural landmarks.

AOT reported that 68 percent of Chinese travelers credited ecotourism and nature as their top travel motivators with urban attractions/nightlife being second, and cultural/historical attractions being third.   

“Arizona is home to some of the world’s most amazing outdoor locations. The Grand Canyon – one of the 7 wonders of the natural world – beautiful and diverse landscapes from Ponderosa pines to Saguaro National Park as well as authentic experiences that include tribal and western culture and history. All appeal to Chinese travelers and international travelers in general,” Blaine said.

In AOT’s 2018 Industry Figures Report, Arizona has 5.56 million international overnight visitors and China is currently the sixth largest origin country. According to Blaine, tourism is Arizona’s biggest export and the state has $6.9 billion in earnings generated by Arizonans employed by tourism and $3.37 billion in local, state, and federal tax revenues generated by visitor spending.

Emily Richardson

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