By: Lance Traweek, CityBusiness, Managing Editor
First Cuba, then Panama. State and local tourism officials also recently traveled to China to try to drum up business in Louisiana.
The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau joined the Louisiana Office of Tourism this month to entice a growing number of Chinese travelers to New Orleans and the state as a whole.
The representatives from Louisiana participated in a Travel South USA International Sales Mission to Shanghai and Beijing from Sept. 10-16.
LOT Assistant Sec. Kyle Edmiston also took part in the China-U.S. Tourism Leadership Summit in Yinchuan, China, promoting Louisiana’s culture, cuisine and outdoor experiences.
In 2015, about 2.5 million Chinese travelers visited the United States, making China the fourth largest country for long-bound international travel to America.
According to the LOT, that number is predicted to increase to 3 million in 2016, and by 2021, double to 6 million visitors, moving China into the top spot for the number of long-bound travelers to the country and exceeding the number of visitors from Germany, France, and Australia combined.
“International travel has increased 36 percent to the state and 37 percent to New Orleans over the last year. That’s huge for our state because international visitors stay longer, see more, and as a result spend more money,” Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser said in a news release.
“There are 133 million Chinese people expected to travel internationally in 2016. Our mission to China was to make sure they know about all the great food, music, culture, and history Louisiana has to offer,” Edmiston said in a news release.
Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans CVB, said cultivating the Chinese market is part of a long-term strategy to make New Orleans a more attractive and accessible destination for what will one day be the largest customer travel market in the world.
Perry pointed to research from the U.S. Department of Commerce National Travel and Tourism Office that states that New Orleans is leading the nation in terms of growing the number of international visitors it attracts.
In 2015, New Orleans raised the number of international visitors it attracts by 37 percent over 2014.