Chinese people travel with much more than intended pleasure in mind. This custom was made clear during a presentation at the 16th Annual Community Marketing & Insights Conference on LGBT tourism and hospitality held last week at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort.
“The Chinese never just travel, they travel on different purposes,” said Charlie Gu, Director of Los Angeles based China Luxury Advisors. “They come here. They visit and they also think about buying different properties. They also think about immigration for themselves and sometimes for their children.”
On the conference’s opening day, Gu teamed with Lu Xun, a research manager at CMI, to deliver a presentation about China’s LGBT community and the opportunities and obstacles for increased travel between China and North America.
“The United States is perceived as very LGBT friendly and considered ideal for immigration investment,” Gu said.
Lu presented findings from a survey of gay and lesbian Chinese people that showed a high interest in fine dining experiences, shopping, history, climate and LGBT life. The study, of roughly 8,000 people, was conducted through social networking apps with a median age of respondents being 23.
Lu said the reason for the survey’s relatively young median age is most older Chinese people have already entered into a heterosexual relationship. She also stated lesbians are more open about their sexuality due to Chinese tradition of men starting a family. Gu said it is acknowledged that many Chinese men will have sex with other men and keep a wife and children as well.
In the CMI survey, New York ranked at the top of the list for cities drawing the most interest from LGBT Chinese followed in order by San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Seattle, Miami and Orlando. Five Chinese cities offer direct flights to the U.S., Gu said. Those cities are: Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Chong Qing.
Lu estimates there are 70 million LGBT people in China. The Chinese government decriminalized homosexuality in 1997 and removed it from a list of mental illnesses in 2001.
A bilateral agreement struck between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping at last year’s APEC Summit extended the tourism visa to 10 years. This decision was hailed by tourism leaders.
“I think the next travel frontier is Asia and specifically China for Americans,” said George T. Neary, a Vice President of Cultural Tourism for the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Miami has an inroad into that market with Art Basel Hong Kong and this now allows Miami to introduce itself into this amazing market and so far it has been a very warm reception. This relationship will grow in the future and be very beneficial for both.”