Interview: Tourism official says Chicago's rich culture attracts more Chinese travelers

09:07, January 12, 2011      

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With its famous architecture, gourmet dining, and authentic blues music, Chicago is becoming an increasingly popular destination for Chinese travelers, said a Chicago tourism official on Monday.

Cathy Domanico, director of tourism at the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau, revealed impressive visitor statistics, as well as Chicago's marketing strategy, in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

"China is a very important market for Chicago and we have enjoyed a steady growth in the Chinese visitors over the last few years," Domanico told Xinhua.

According to the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau, in 2009, Chicago was ranked the 10th most visited city in the United States by overseas travelers with an estimated 1,130,000 overseas visitors. China was ranked 8th in 2009 in the list for top international inbound travelers to Chicago.

The impressive growth is owing to a marketing plan that began with promoting Chicago in China, explained Domanico.

"We did our first research trip to China in 2006, and in 2009 we opened offices in Beijing and Shanghai. We have put together a marketing and sales plan to attract Chinese travelers to Chicago which really elevates the brand and image of Chicago in China."

According to Domanico, the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau attracts both domestic and international travelers to Chicago by educating tour operators and travel agencies on the city's assets so they can in turn sell Chicago to consumers.

"We have a beautiful city here! We constantly give people updates on what is new in Chicago," she said.

Domanico described Chicago's rich culture and colorful entertainment as strong attractions to visitors.

"It is really a spectacular place. Millennium Park hosts free concerts in summertime. There are 230 theaters in Chicago, plus cultural institutions and many museums. And don't forget that Chicago is home to Chicago Blues as well as jazz music. It is just a fabulous entertainment city."

When asked about the plan in 2011, Domanico said, "We will continue to educate the consumer and travel trades. Our ultimate goal is to bring more travelers to Chicago and to increase the number of the Chinese arrivals. Also, we will continue to increase the visibility of our brand and establish our image so that when the Chinese tourists see our Chicago logo, they understand what we have and why we are different."

In addition, in order to cut costs for tourists, the tourism bureau cooperated with the airlines and hotels in Chicago to provide an affordable package, she said.

"Visiting other places is a way to extend friendship and understand what each country or each city is about. A good economy anywhere will spur people to travel, and we are thrilled that so many Chinese are choosing Chicago as their vacation and leisure travel destination," she said, commenting on the significance of cultural exchange between the Chinese and Americans.

Domanico also extended warm welcome to the Chinese visitors.

"I welcome all the Chinese visitors to come to Chicago, an incredible place to be. We are known for our world class shopping, gourmet dining, fabulous Chinatown, and our architecture that is second to none. It is such a beautiful city that you have to see it to believe it."

Source: Xinhua
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