PHOTO: Las Vegas' Caesars Palace. (photo via Flickr/Mario Antonio Pena Zapateria)
Top U.S. tourist destinations have been anticipating an influx of Chinese visitors for awhile. Now, the travel and tourism industry is moving ahead to prepare for a dramatic increase in visitors from the emerging Asian market.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, Chinese visitors to the U.S. are expected to more than double from roughly 2.6 million people in 2015 to nearly 6 million by the start of the next decade.
What's more, U.S. Travel estimates that visitors from China spend approximately $7,200 per person during their time in the U.S., an average well above any other international visitors.
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The Associated Press reports that destinations have already begun taking several important steps to ensure Chinese visitors feel welcome, mainly by incorporating Chinese language and customs into their products and educating personnel.
Hotels from marquee destinations like New York and Los Angeles to secondary markets like Seattle have begun offering Chinese-language television stations, newspapers and restaurant menus. The Four Seasons in Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood is one of those proactive properties, per the AP.
Caesars Entertainment recently started allowing Chinese guests to book and pay for their hotel rooms on China's most popular social media app, WeChat.
"It's made a really strong statement to the Chinese that these people really welcome us and understand us," Caesars' vice president of international marketing Bruce Bommarito told the AP.
Despite the many efforts that have been made so far, it appears the U.S. still has plenty more work to do. The increase in direct flights between China and the U.S., along with 2014's 10-year visa between the two countries will bring more Chinese travelers to more parts of America rather than just the typical tourist hotspots.
Officials at Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport have already been working to improve how they accommodate Chinese visitors, launching a program to greet Chinese arrivals with guides and signs designed to make for a far less confusing experience.
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Last summer, Yellowstone National Park hired three Mandarin-speaking interpretive park rangers to better assist Chinese visitors, whether by leading a guided tour or helping in the event of a medical emergency.
"During last summer we saw that this could be helpful," Yellowstone's South District resource education ranger Rich Jehle told the Casper Star-Tribune in 2016. "We have all kinds of basic safety publications in different languages. But it’s different having someone who can speak directly to a visitor."
Although President Donald Trump's executive order aiming to ban incoming passengers from six Muslim-majority has hurt the U.S. image, according to many tourism officials, a recent Brand USA poll found that China is one of the few countries where travelers appear to be undeterred by such politics.