time_square.jpgNew York has opened a tourist office in Shanghai, thus becoming the latest in a lengthening list of countries and cities trying to attract China's growing number of globe-trotting tourists.

The Big Apple hopes to make a big impression on Chinese visitors, whose numbers have more than doubled from 59,000 in 2002 to 133,000 in 2005. That may not seem many, but the US does not yet have “approved destination status” and so visits to the US are limited to Chinese with work visas, who can also bring family members.

While that bureaucratic barrier remains, NYC along with the rest of the US, knows it has its work cut out attracting Chinese consumers. Nevertheless, with better marketing and a new office in Shanghai, NYC & Company, the official marketing and tourism organisation for New York, hopes it can boost visitor numbers from China to 165,000 this year.

The high amount of Chinese business travel to NYC, coupled with China's growing outbound tourism market, make China among the most important targets for mayor Michael Bloomberg's campaign to attract 50m visitors annually by 2015.

According to China's National Tourism Administration, 34m Chinese travelled abroad in 2006, a 10% rise on the previous year. That's more than the entire population of Canada. No wonder foreign convention and visitors bureaus are making a big effort to attract Chinese visitors. More on the bureaus' plans to woo Chinese tourists in this EngagingChina story.

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