Guides plan set to boost LA tourism

By Weichi Sun and Du Liya Source:Global Times Published: 2014-4-17 17:53:01

Los Angeles, the second largest city in the US and one of the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists, has recently launched a certification program for Chinese-language tour guides in a bid to lure more Chinese tourists.

The program, promoted by the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board (LATCB), will help optimize Chinese tourists' traveling experience in LA by improving the quality of service and setting an industrial standard, said Jamie Y Lee, chief representative of the LATCB China Office.

This is the first time a US city has had an accreditation test for Chinese-language tour guides, Lee noted.

According to the LATCB, LA saw a record-breaking 42.2 million total visitors in 2013, 6.2 million of whom were international visitors. This was a 2 percent increase over the 41.4 million visitors in 2012, breaking visitation records for the third year in a row. The figure is expected to reach 50 million visitors by 2020.

Moreover, the LA's top overseas tourism market is China, and Chinese tourists in LA surged to a record 570,000 in 2013, a 21 percent increase over 2012, the official statistics showed. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and LATCB President Ernest Wooden both plan to visit China later this year to better understand the emerging market.

Chengwu Xu, president of the China Inbound Travel Association (CITA), said that CITA has long pushed for tourism accreditation and regulation, and it will cooperate with the LATCB in promoting the program. This is also a good opportunity for China-based tourist groups working closely with LA local travel agencies to jointly provide better service for tourists, Xu said.

Experts and professionals in tourism are invited to give constructive suggestions on the implementation details of the program. The layout of the written test is to examine the tour guides' knowledge about the city's history and culture, as well as service techniques and capabilities of handling emergencies.

The San Francisco Travel Association, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau have all shown interest, which means the possibility of an expanded certification program for Chinese-language tour guides in both California and Nevada.

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