The increasingly common sight of Christmas trees in shopping centers across Chinese metropolises is evidence of the popular and commercial embrace of the western holiday. While festive activities offer seasonal excitement before February’s Chinese New Year, an increasing number of Chinese holidaymakers are taking advantage of favorable airfares to experience a western Christmas season firsthand.

Last year, Ctrip reported a 400 percent increase in itinerates that included winter Christmas activities and destination marketing organizations (DMOs) have responded by more actively promoting Christmas markets, tree lighting ceremonies, ice skating rinks and seasonal concerts.

The hope is to increase Chinese visitation during a typically quieter tourist season and here, five DMO leaders chime in on how they promoted their destinations to Chinese travels for the holiday season.

“Travel Oregon has been focused on developing exciting digital content via platforms like Mafengwo, and consistent, actionable exposure via OTA and mobile apps, WeChat, Weibo, Toutiao, Qyer, and SinaTravel. We’ve also worked closely with our Travel Oregon—Shanghai-based team to create a series in-house B2B trainings showcasing Oregon’s winter season offerings for late bookings in 2020 and early 2021 focused on self-drive customers visiting the West Coast of the United States.” Greg Eckhart, Director of Global Sales, Travel Oregon.

“We have seen growing interest in Michigan as a destination for Chinese travelers, and while we are known for our Great Lakes and warm weather offerings, winter can propose especially magical experiences for Chinese travelers – including the many Chinese students at Michigan universities on break. Winter in America comes to life in welcoming towns and unique experiences – including elk viewing by sleigh ride, city parks turned into ice rinks and world-class holiday shopping. Bundle up in warm clothes and spend an evening experiencing the state’s epic natural beauty at one of our dark sky parks – where the night sky comes to life, and if you are lucky you can catch a show of the elusive Northern Lights.” Dave Lorenz, Vice President, Travel Michigan.

“The holiday season is a very popular time for the Chinese to visit Florida. Boasted with unique holiday decorations, many attractions offer special activities, like Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. China is now our Top 10 source market with almost 300,000 visitors and we continue to see steady growth.” Brian Han, Public Relations Manager, Visit Florida China Office.

“Travel Wisconsin recently hosted the Deputy Consul General and the Vice Consul of Cultural Affairs from the Chinese Consulate in Chicago for a tour of the Racine Zoo’s Lantern Festival. The Racine Zoo worked closely with artisans from China’s Zigong Lantern Group China to produce this amazing holiday festival. By infusing marketing dollars from our JEM grant program, Travel Wisconsin hopes to introduce both domestic and international visitors to this new event. According to data provided to Great Lakes USA through the National Travel and Tourism Office Survey of International Air Travelers, over 44,000 Chinese travelers visited Wisconsin in 2018.” David Spiegelberg, Regional Tourism Specialist, Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

“Kentucky’s thrilled to welcome more Chinese and international travelers every year who seek out the state’s world-famous horse racing, bourbon distilleries, outdoor adventure and more. Cities like Louisville, Lexington, Bardstown and Owensboro are growing and welcoming more international travelers and influences, such as the Chinese Lantern Festival at the Louisville Zoo next year, enriching the state’s proud heritage and southern hospitality.” Margaret Fuqua, International Sales Manager, Kentucky Department of Tourism.