Many Chinese celebrities have recently become spokes people for locations around the world as tourism associations attempt to cash in on the hoards of traveling Chinese. Often using a popular Chinese personality to promote your destination can reach consumers in a more effective  and personal way. Celebrities are followed by the millions on social media platforms and often have a large influence on brand reputations in China.


Visit California & Gao Yuanyuan (Model & Actress)

visit cali

Gao Yuanyuan’s reach on social media was an appealing factor when Visit California selected her as brand ambassador, says Caroline Beteta, Visit California’s president and CEO. The Chinese star has more than 20 million followers on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. “We were looking for someone who could embody the California attitude and be an extension of our brand to engage the Chinese consumer market,” Beteta says.  Visit California treated Ms. Gao and her family to a “California Dream Vacation”, filming a series of videos featuring stops at Universal Studios and Disneyland in the Los Angeles area and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, among other highlights.

The deal with Gao is part of a larger campaign by Visit California to target mainland tourists. The official state tourism board, which opened offices in Beijing and Shanghai in 2008, will spend a total of $1.6 million this year to attract Chinese visitors. China ranks as the top overseas market for California with an estimated 718,000 visitors in 2012, an increase of 39 percent from the year before, according to preliminary data provided by Visit California. Chinese tourists stayed for an average of 10.6 days and spent $2,932 per visitor, higher than any other overseas market.

Tourism New Zealand & Yao Chen (Actress & Blogger)

Tourism New Zealand’s partnership with Chinese superstar Yao Chen has been a massive boon for the country’s tourism industry. The two parties formed a partnership in August 2011, aimed at promoting New Zealand as a luxury destination for holidays, weddings and honeymoons. Yao, who has some 52 million fans on Sina Weibo, has filmed a number of promotional videos in the country and appeared at a red carpet ceremony for the blockbuster The Hobbit, which was filmed in New Zealand.

Last November, Yao was married in Queenstown, and photos of the lavish affair spread rapidly on Chinese social media. The wedding quickly became one of the most discussed topics on Weibo: forty million discussion items registered on Weibo for the wedding had “New Zealand” as a keyword, and there were close to 7,000 stories about the wedding in Chinese media. A similar advertising campaign would cost tens of millions of dollars, said Graham Budd, Destination Queenstown’s chief executive, in a report to city councilors.

As the “Queen of Weibo”, Yao Chen herself has huge influence on Weibo with over 26 million fans. This photo, of her during her wedding trip to New Zealand went viral and was re-posted over 100,000 times.

As the “Queen of Weibo”, Yao Chen herself has huge influence on Weibo with over 26 million fans. This photo of Yao during her wedding trip to New Zealand went viral and was re-posted over 100,000 times.

Tourism Vancouver & Wanting Qu (Singer)

Tourism Vancouver announced in February it was teaming with Wanting Qu, a Chinese pop star who was born in China but moved to Vancouver as a teen. In June, the organization launched a video series and social media campaign.  “We were looking for ways to break through the competitive clutter to get a message about Vancouver to an audience that would resonate with their interest in new experiences and destinations,” says Stephen Pearce, Tourism Vancouver’s vice president of leisure travel.

Tourism Vancouver simultaneously launched a Chinese language website that offered Qu’s fans a chance to win a trip to the city to meet the singer. An estimated 170,000 Chinese tourists are expected to visit Vancouver this year, according to Tourism Vancouver. “Our projection is for 17 percent growth over 2012, but already we have grown by 25 percent year to date,” Pearce says. “At this rate, China will be our second largest international market, after the U.S., by 2014.”


Read more about this trend from Jing Daily here.