And the flight doesn’t even land in the U.S.—Rather, it Goes to Tijuana, Mexico; Deciding to work with what it has, the San Diego Tourism Authority (SDTA) is turning to Tijuana, Mexico—it’s just 20 miles south of downtown San Diego—to fuel a marketing campaign aimed at bringing more Chinese visitors to the city. In a slide-show outline form, here is what has been happening, as reported by Jing Travel.
—Taking advantage of a new Hainan Airlines Beijing-Tijuana-Mexico City route (it is the closest flight to San Diego originating in China, SDTA is working directly with Hainan Airlines to promote the Tijuana stopover as an additional gateway to San Diego.
—The new flight service will take passengers to the Tijuana International Airport, located on the international border between Tijuana and San Diego, provides Chinese travelers with easy and convenient access to San Diego and its many unique offerings.
—Based on market analysis, “we expect to see an increase and impact to San Diego arriving to Tijuana Airport and crossing the new Cross Border Xpress (CBX) into our destination,” says Joe Timko, international public relations manager at San Diego Tourism Authority. (Cross Border Express is an airport terminal located in San Diego County, with an access bridge connecting it to the Tijuana International Airport. Upon landing, international passengers retrieve their luggage and then walk across a pedestrian bridge into San Diego, where they will clear U.S. customs and immigration – all without leaving the terminal.)
—It is estimated that 20 percent of passengers will disembark at Tijuana International Airport, located directly on the U.S.-Mexico border, and potentially cross the border to San Diego via the Cross Border Xpress. CBX provides an exciting new option for Chinese visitors to San Diego without having to stop another California or U.S. city such as Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle.
—To increase awareness and interest in travel to San Diego among Chinese FIT travelers and to generate overnight hotel/motel stays for San Diego, SDTA’s in-market representation firm, Aviareps, in partnership with Hainan Airlines, is conducting training sessions for the top 25 Chinese wholesalers and operators, such as Caissa, Utour, Tuniu, BCTS, and more, to educate them about the new flight and the opportunities it offers for Chinese visitors to San Diego.
—In late February, SDTA hosted an annual luncheon for Los Angeles-based Asian tour operators, most of whom were Chinese tour operators, to discuss the new route and the opportunities it provides to Chinese visitors to the region.
—SDTA will continue its in-market efforts by participating in the Visit California sales mission and meet with key travel trade contacts in Beijing, Shanghai and Taipei to discuss further the new flight and San Diego in April.
—In addition to that, SDTA is also partnering with Brand USA to launch a multi-channel consumer direct advertising program in China. Elements include online travel agency campaigns with Ctrip and Fliggy, and consumer advertising campaigns with Baidu. There will also be influencer marketing programs with key opinion leaders (KOLs) in China.
—Other components of the Brand USA program include developing and distributing in-language video content including Brand USA’s Native Traveler and Destination-at-a-Glance series, developing a San Diego landing page on GoUSA.cn, launching San Diego’s WeChat and expanded social promotions on WeChat and Weibo.
—SDTA’s overall $1 million investment to carry out its China marketing plan is estimated to deliver more than 250 million impressions in the Chinese market. In 2016, San Diego welcomed 122,000 Chinese visitors, a 15 percent growth compared with 2015. SDTA forecasts China to become San Diego’s largest overseas market within the next five years.