September 26, 2016

Barry Landry
Dir. of Communications
Louisiana Office of Tourism
225.342.8142 Kristian Sonnier
V.P., Comm. & Public Relations
New Orleans CVB
504.566.5019 Buddy Boe/ Jessica Ragusa
Office of the Lt. Governor

State of Louisiana and city of New Orleans Poised to Reap Benefits of Additional Chinese Travelers

BATON ROUGE, La. - The Louisiana Office of Tourism (LOT), along with the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (NOCVB), and state tourism leaders teamed up with Travel South USA to attract a growing number of Chinese travelers to the state and city. Representatives from Louisiana participated in a Travel South USA International Sales Mission to Shanghai and Beijing reinforcing interest in the southern United States to Chinese international travelers, especially Louisiana and the city of New Orleans. Prior to the sales mission, LOT Assistant Secretary Kyle Edmiston participated in the China-U.S. Tourism Leadership Summit in Yinchuan, China, promoting Louisiana's culture, cuisine, and outdoor experiences to tourism leaders.

In 2015, approximately 2.5 million Chinese travelers visited the United States, making China the 4th largest country for long-bound international travel to the U.S. That number is expected to increase to 3 million in 2016, and by 2021, double to 6 million visitors, moving China into the top spot for the number of long-bound travelers to our country and exceeding the number of visitors from Germany, France, and Australia combined.

"International travel has increased 36 percent to the state and 37 percent to New Orleans over the last year. That's huge for our state because international visitors stay longer, see more, and as a result spend more money," said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. "Louisiana has a one of a kind experience to offer visitors. We need to continue putting our best foot forward and making sure people around the world know Louisiana is ready to help them pass a good time."

"There are 133 million Chinese people expected to travel internationally in 2016. Our mission to China was to make sure they know about all the great food, music, culture, and history Louisiana has to offer," said Assistant Secretary Kyle Edmiston. "We want to make sure we are doing our part to inspire the increasing number of Chinese travelers to make Louisiana their destination of choice."

"Cultivating the Chinese market is part of our long-term strategy to make New Orleans a more attractive and accessible destination for what will one day be the largest customer travel market in the world. Just recently, research from the US Department of Commerce National Travel and Tourism Office found that New Orleans is leading the nation in terms of growing the number of international visitors it attracts. In 2015, New Orleans grew the number of international visitors it attracts by 37 percent over 2014. To put this growth into perspective, New York, the number one city for international visitation by volume, grew by 2 percent over the same period. This validates that our focus on growing international visitors is working. We will continue this effort to add hundreds of millions of dollars in top line revenue to the New Orleans economy," said Stephen Perry, President and CEO, New Orleans CVB.

"Over the past three years, the NOCVB has participated in sales missions to China and enhanced our online presence through the official US site We made the strategic decision to host IPW this past June in an effort to introduce New Orleans to over 140 influential Chinese travel buyers. These buyers had never been to New Orleans and few had even been to the Southern States. Showcasing our city to these key buyers has already begun to produce dividends. The CVB will work closely with the hospitality industry to assist them to become "China Ready" as we continue to welcome more and more Chinese visitors," said Kim Priez, Senior Vice President of Tourism, New Orleans CVB.

Travel South USA signed an agreement with the East West Marketing Corp. as part of a Global Partner Program. Through this partnership, Travel South USA will create a webpage on "We Chat" - an instant messaging service developed in China with more than 730 million active uses. Additionally, Travel South USA will represent its membership in Active America China, a tourism show 100 percent dedicated to building inbound Chinese tourism, and participate in the Travel South International Showcase and the International Pow Wow (IPW), held in June 2017 in Washington, DC.

From Louisiana, the following participated in the Travel South USA led event to China:

Kyle Edmiston, Louisiana Office of Tourism
Kim Priez, New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau
Mike Prejean, Louisiana Office of Tourism
Doug Bourgeois, Louisiana Office of Tourism
Kevin Kelly, Houmas House Plantation
Harolyn Falgoust, Monroe/West Monroe CVB

Quick facts about Chinese travelers:

60 percent of Chinese travelers aspire to visit the United States.
At $7,500 spent per person, Chinese travelers are the highest spending visitor group to the United States.
From 2010 to 2015, the number of middle class families in China increased from 50 million to 300 million, and is expected to reach 600 million by 2020. Research shows middle class families in China spend approximately 19 percent of their income annually on overseas travel.

Quick Facts about WeChat users:

More than 730 million active users.
91 percent of Chinese visitors to the U.S. use the social media network.
Users average more than 40 hours a week on the network.
61 percent of users ask for opinions before making online purchases.
73 percent return after a purchase to give their opinion.

To further outreach to Chinese travelers, the Louisiana Office of Tourism will meet with Chinese tourism representatives in New York as part of a Travel South sales mission. Likewise, the New Orleans CVB and Louisiana Office of Tourism will have a focus on meeting with China's tourism leaders at three trade shows featuring Chinese buyers with the largest delegation attending IPW 2017 in June in Washington, DC.