Visitors bureau delegation to go to China to pitch Miami
By Charlotte Libov
A delegation of tourism officials is headed to China this month to insure that millions of Chinese think of Miami when vacation time rolls around.
The group includes William D. Talbert, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, and several staffers - David Whitaker, senior vice president of marketing; Peter Moss, London-based director of European and Asian sales; and Sonia Fong-Chen, an in-market representative. Maria Sastre, chairwoman of the bureau's board and head of international sales for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, also will go.
"There are a number of reports showing that 30 million Chinese travel each year throughout the world, but the US is still not an official approved destination for unrestricted travel," Mr. Whitaker said. "But the doors are slowly opening, and there is great anticipation that travel restrictions may be relaxed somewhat."
The March 28-April 11 trip will take the delegation to Guangzhou, Tianjin, Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai, Mr. Whitaker said.
They are to begin their visit in Guangzhou, China's fourth largest city, to meet with representatives from the Southern Media Group, whose travel channel recently spent a weekend in Miami as part of its "destination showcase" program, Mr. Whitaker said.
After that, the group travels to Tianjin, China's third largest city, which operates a program with Florida International University's School of Hospitality.
"FIU has staff and students there, and students from China studying here, so it's a great opportunity for an exchange," Mr. Whitaker said.
The group then goes to Beijing to attend the four-day Beijing International Travel and Tourism Market, China's Number One tourism show, where they will join with representatives from Visit Florida, the state's official marketing organization, to showcase all of the state's tourism attractions.
Then, they are to go on to Hangzhou and then Shanghai, where, "similar to other cities, we'll be hosting a reception for a number of our hotel partners, including the Shangri-La, which recently announced a partnership in Miami, the Regent Hotel, which is establishing hotels here, and other hotels," he said.
The bureau has been courting the Asian traveler, and is currently laying groundwork to foster ties not only to China but to India as well.
"We have someone researching some of the travel shows in India and will do a trip later next year," Mr. Whitaker said.
He visited China twice over the past two year, doing the research for this trip.
"We are always looking for new opportunities," he said. "With capitalism having such an impact in China, it makes perfect sense to create a brand identity and a link so that they are interested in traveling here."