Hawaii Among Several Destinations Luring Chinese

The AP reports that Hawaii, California, and Las Vegas are promoting themselves as vacation destinations to wealthy :

Beset by one of the worst recessions in decades, the U.S. destinations are spending significant sums on marketing campaigns in China’s most populous regions, and are urging U.S. embassy officials and Chinese airlines to ease the logistical burdens of flying to the United States… About a half-million Chinese traveled to all U.S. destinations last year, and that number is expected to grow by double digits in each of the next four years mainly because of China’s growing economy and new wealth, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Tourism officials note that the Chinese middle and upper classes each rivals the size of the entire U.S. population, so luring just a fraction would produce huge numbers.

“Everybody looks at China and sees a country with 1.3 billion people and a growing economy, and they say, ‘Oh my God, it’s the greatest travel market that ever was,'” said Frank Haas, an instructor at the School of Travel Industry Management at the University of Hawaii… To lure the Chinese, the Hawaii Tourism Authority has budgeted a total of nearly $2.7 million this fiscal year for marketing there and in Korea, said David Uchiyama, HTA’s vice president of marketing. That includes $447,000 to participate in the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, which begins in May.

But for the Chinese traveler, preparations for a trip to the U.S. can still be a hassle. Only the U.S. embassy in Beijing and four consulates located mostly on China’s eastern coast handle visa applications, which require an in-person interview. However, traveling in groups, which tourism experts say Chinese prefer, can ease those impediments.

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