Destination DC’s 2016 Global Marketplace: Welcome China

Last Tuesday, Destination DC‘s 3rd Annual Global Marketplace conference took place at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. The annual event helps travel and hospitality professionals prepare for visitors from international markets. Themed “Welcome China,” the 2016 edition highlighted the rapid rise of Chinese tourists to Washington and how businesses in the travel and tourism industry can best accommodate them.

Chinese travel to the United States increased by 18% in 2015, with many opting to visit East Coast cities such as Boston, Philadelphia and DC. The Nation’s Capital is quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations for Chinese visitors, thanks to the abundant shopping, cultural and sightseeing opportunities. “One out of every nine Chinese visitors that comes to the United States actually comes to Washington,” said Elliot Ferguson, President & CEO of Destination DC. “We’re always asked what we’re doing as a destination not only to make those Chinese visiting us feel more welcomed but to become more of an international destination.”

Travel & Marketing Insight‘s President, Scott Johnson, also spoke of the dramatic spike in Chinese tourists venturing to the District. DC welcomed 300,000 visitors from China in 2015, increasing over 635 percent in the last ten years. The trend doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. Johnson predicted that the number of Chinese visitors to DC will rise to 500,000 people annually by 2020.

Organizers hope to accomplish making Chinese visitors feel welcomed and view DC as an international destination through the “Welcome China” program. This initiative was designed to help local travel industry professionals fuse Chinese customs into service offerings, often using online networks as its primary communication tool. Vice President of SinoMedia Mavis Zheng emphasized the impactful role that mobile phones and social media sites play in nearly every aspect of Chinese culture. Travelers from China tend to rely on their cell phone for everything, from booking travel plans to sharing experiences. Amongst the most popular tools is WeChat – a cross platform messaging application enabling users to do everything from video conferencing and texting, to playing video games and sharing photographs. Praised by its 806 million active users for being both efficient and convenient, the app was a main focus of the conference’s afternoon sessions.

Zheng also noted that awareness and courtesy are key when working with Chinese travelers, encouraging local hospitality professionals to familiarize themselves with China’s cultural norms. Building on advice shared from the event’s featured speakers, attendees were also given a preparation checklist highlighting ways to operate a Chinese-friendly business able to accommodate visitors for extended periods of seven days or more.

Learn more about Destination DC’s 2016 Global Marketplace conference by checking out the media coverage featured below.

[Destination DC President & CEO Elliot Ferguson making his opening remarks at 2016 Global Marketplace conference.]