Las Vegas Seeks Chinese Visitors Despite Setbacks
- Posted by Newsdesk
- On 17th February 2017
- china, Hainan Airlines, LAS, Las Vegas
Las Vegas is looking to attract greater numbers of Chinese visitors, having already begun direct flights from Beijing to McCarren International Airport (LAS) in December with Hainan Airlines. However, the road ahead is not without its obstacles, as the city struggles with its second-tier city status in the United States and with making the switch to mobile payment culture to accommodate visitors from China.
On Dec. 2 2016, Hainan Airlines became the first Mainland China air service to offer direct flights (three times per week) between Beijing and LAS. The introduction of the service followed interest from LAS to expand reach to China, and is part of Hainan Airlines’ expansion of services, according to Sun Jianfeng, president of Hainan Airlines. Because LAS is not a main hub airport in the United States, travellers have often had to transfer flights via Los Angeles or San Francisco, and Chris Jones, chief marketing officer for the airport, has said that it is unlikely large US carriers such as Delta Air Lines, United Airlines or American Airlines will ever implement direct flights between China and LAS – hence the interest in Chinese airlines.
Due to a bilateral agreement between China and the United States, there is a restriction on the number of flights from Chinese first-tier cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai. LAS is therefore looking to create and expand flight paths to second-tier cities (many of which have populations of around 10 million people) not subject to the same restrictions. As Hou Wei, senior vice-president of Hainan Airlines has stated, ‘’Direct flights between first-tier Chinese cities and second-tier foreign cities, as well as second-tier Chinese cities and top-tier foreign cities, are expected to grow rapidly in the future, given the significant demand for international travel in China.’’ Given Las Vegas is already a second-tier city in the United States, it remains to be seen whether connections between LAS and Chinese airports increase.
Despite uncertainty over the expansion of direct flights from LAS to Chinese airports, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is expecting changes in the demographics of Chinese visitors to the city, with individual and younger travellers expected to comprise a larger share of tourists. In response to this, LAS has added signage in Mandarin Chinese to its international terminal and passport controls, and its restaurants have added Chinese-language menus. In Las Vegas itself, hotels have been encouraged to introduce translated menus and Chinese menu items, as well as Chinese-speaking staff and the chance to pay for services and products via mobile payment, as is popular in China.
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Sources: Aviation Week, China Daily, Review Journal, Aviation Pros.