Most of our international travelers begin their exploration of Atlanta at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. Tour operators also shared Chinese interest in the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum to learn how President Carter normalized relations with China. “Gone With the Wind” continues to be popular in China; the Margaret Mitchell House is included in any travel itinerary.
As for international brands, Atlanta has a strong core of offerings: CNN, World of Coca-Cola and Georgia Aquarium.
Finally, as the shopping capital of the Southeast, Atlanta offers premium retail brands at Lenox Square, Phipps Plaza and the North Georgia Premium Outlets. The new Buckhead Atlanta complex will bring more luxury retail offerings for domestic and international visitors.
When you consider Atlanta welcomed 42.3 million visitors last year, 47,000 Chinese visitors is a paltry sum. So the question becomes: How do we increase that number to 250,000? This increase would represent $1.5 billion in spending.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau secured agreements with two of the top five tour operators in Shanghai to carry trips including stops in Atlanta and other Georgia cities. This partnership, in conjunction with other opportunities we expect to close in Qingdao and Jinan, will give us a good start in expanding our Chinese visitation.
The airport’s new international terminal, coupled with Delta’s expanding service to overseas cities, makes international tourism the next area of significant growth for Atlanta.
China is rich with opportunity.
William Pate is president/CEO of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.