When international tour operators from France, Germany, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom attend the 15th annual Discover New England tourism summit and international marketplace at Belle Mer in Newport April 19-21, many of Rhode Island’s best-known tourism assets will be on display – from local vineyards to storied mansions and culinary excellence.
So, too, will the Ocean State’s growing business acumen in tourism. Denise Schwerin, assistant director of business services for the U.S.-China Institute at Bryant University, will lead a workshop on “Are you ready for the Chinese traveler?” explaining the kinds of new sensibilities and services needed to accommodate an expected wave of Chinese tourists.
“You can look at the numbers that California and Hawaii are spending – $100 million – to market their states overseas to the Chinese,” she said. By 2020, she continued. “China will have the largest travel population in the world, approximately 100 million international travelers,” doubling the current number of 50 million Chinese who travel internationally.
For the last year, Schwerin has been working with Mark Brodeur, director of tourism at the R.I. Economic Development Corporation, to look at ways to improve the experience of the Chinese tourist in the Ocean State. The focus has been on developing a better understanding of what the Chinese visitor would like to see – and, in turn, what Rhode Island has to offer them.
Many Chinese visitors, Schwerin said, will pass through Rhode Island on their way between New York City and Boston, so it will be important to find things that will accommodate these new visitors – such as restaurants having menus translated into Chinese.