News & Insights

Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association Prepares Members For Influx of Chinese Visitors

According to a new study by Oxford Economics, the surge in visitors from China will continue into the next few years, with New York expected to see a nearly 200 percent increase.

Within the next five years, New York is expected to host 1.17 million Chinese visitors, a 196 percent increase over 2013. New York and Los Angeles are presently the top destinations for Chinese visitors to the U.S. and are projected to hold this position well into 2023.

The study also indicates that Chinese arrivals are estimated to increase to nearly 97 million, a growth rate of 5.1 percent by 2023.

The increase in Chinese visitors is due to the growth of the Chinese middle class and their desire to experience other cultures and well-known international destinations.

The Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association (SCVA) aims to attract a piece of this market and drive tourism dollars to its member businesses. This initiative builds on the existing domestic and international marketing and promotion programs SCVA is cultivating within the U.K. Ireland, Germany and Australia.

“The Sullivan Catskills has what Chinese visitors are looking for,” stated Roberta Byron-Lockwood, President/CEO of the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association.

“They want quality, authentic and sophisticated experiences that include outdoor adventure, picturesque views, health and well-being opportunities, gaming, exceptional cuisine and nice hotels, local culture and much more,” she said.

“We have it all here and we are only 90 minutes from New York City! As a gateway destination to the Catskill Region, we are well positioned to welcome the growing number of Chinese travelers who want to experience more of New York,” she said.

In preparation for the influx of Chinese visitors the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association, in collaboration with New York State Division of Tourism (I Love New York), recently hosted a Visitor Readiness Workshop for its members at Resorts World Catskills.

The seminar aimed to educate tourism stakeholders on the value of promoting the Catskill Region to the International and Domestic Chinese market. In addition to the Chinese being the fastest growing visitor group to the U.S., they spend more than any another traveler.

For this reason, the workshop focused on how to work with Chinese tour operators, prepare for Chinese arrivals, and attract the Chinese to their businesses.

Presenters were experts on the domestic and international Chinese travel and trade market – Markly Wilson, Director of International Marketing, I Love New York, Top Dong, Director of Travel Trade, I Love NY China, Fanny Lawren, I Love NY Chinese Consultant and well-established tour operators from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu.

The workshop was attended by approximately fifty businesses and attractions from Sullivan County. The content was well received and SCVA will follow-up with its members on the next steps to attract this market.

Immediately after the presentation, the Chinese delegates and representatives from I Love New York were shown some of the best-of-the-best places to stay, eat and experience in the Sullivan Catskills – visiting member business in Callicoon, Bethel, Narrowsburg and Barryville. The objective for their familiarization tour was for the operators to create a Sullivan Catskills tour with packages consisting of lodging, restaurants and attractions and sell them to their clients. In turn, they will drive dollars into our local economy.

The operators were fascinated with the beauty and tourism attractions they experienced while in Sullivan County. Jimmy Xiaoke, Product Manager of Chongqing Grand China Express International Travel Service stated, “Sullivan Catskills is beautiful and fun.

I did not expect it to be this beautiful. The Sullivan Catskills has what the Chinese are looking for!” Many questions were asked and the operators were fully engaged when shown the lodging properties and attractions.

The Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association will continue to work with I Love New York, Chinese tour operators and its members on the China Tourism Program.

They are already working on a strategy for follow-up and creating a China Readiness booklet that will instruct members on how to work with Chinese travelers and tour operators.

The workbook will include information on Chinese customs, product development and promotion to this market.

For more information on how to become a member of the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association, contact Holly Gasssler at [email protected].

To learn more on the China Tourism Program, contact Lori Solomon, Director of Business Development at [email protected] or 845-747-4449.