West Asheville. Hank Williams, Jr., David Allen Coe and Waylon Jennings.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Jade Mine

If you’re in travel anywhere in the world and don’t have an evolved and nuanced China strategy, you aren’t a serious player in 2013.   - Source
I was astonished at the number of Chinese tourists in Las Vegas last year when we visited - in the casinos, on the strip, everywhere.  And just the other day, when Kade and I were having a meal in a café in downtown Asheville, a huge tour bus stopped nearby and a bunch of Chinese tourists got off and started exploring the city.  It got me wondering about how Asheville, which already brilliantly markets itself regionally and nationally, is going to tap into this skyrocketing volume of new Chinese tourists (and other internationals) who are checking off their destination bucket lists.  Something is already happening. I've heard from my brother about Chinese tourists at the Biltmore Estate.  And then of course, this giant tour bus that stopped off in the city.  The whole prospect of strategically reaching out to this specific category of international travelers is quite intriguing, and if Asheville can do it very successfully, talk about a further boon to the local economy?!?!?  Before posting this on my blog, I actually sent an e-mail to the head of the Buncombe County Tourism Authority Board inquiring into this matter and encouraging them to capitalize on this.
      By 2015, 100 million Chinese will travel abroad, a benchmark originally forecast for 2020, according to the UNWTO.  - Photo Credit plus article Chinese travelers the world's biggest spenders

Everyone wants a Chinese tourist in 2013: How 30+ countries plan to lure them in  (an excellent article)

A booming economy and expanding middle class with a newly disposable income has made China the number one most sought after outbound tourism market in the world.  - Samantha Shankman

Incidentally, when I lived in Bangkok and was around university students and professional workers at the school where I taught English, except for the rare person who said they might be studying at the University of Alabama or Duke, I never heard anyone mention that they knew of Alabama or North Carolina. They just didn't really register. Now, the movie Sweet Home Alabama came out when I was there, so it prompted some discussion between my students and me, and it gave me a chance to talk about my home state.  Of course, I also mentioned the movie Forrest Gump, reminding them that it prominently featured Alabama. Overwhelmingly, though, when it came to traveling and/or studying, only large cities like New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Miami and San Francisco did they know well.
On a funny note, before Kade traveled with me to Alabama to meet my family for the very first time, she was looking for some gift items to give my parents.  For my dad she picked out some Jim Thompson ties that had elephants on them, being that the elephant is the revered national symbol of Thailand.  I said, "Kade, you don't want to do that.  You won't understand now, but you will later."  Now she knows!

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