DC reaches out to Chinese tourists through WeChat

WASHINGTON — Destination DC has expanded a partnership with China’s popular instant messaging platform WeChat by launching a new “City Experience” program to support Chinese travelers when they arrive in the city.

China is D.C.’s largest source of inbound foreign visitors — more than 300,000 a year currently.

WeChat, which has a billion users, is owned by Chinese technology giant Tencent.

Destination DC said Chinese visitors can face hurdles when planning trips to U.S. cities and navigating destinations, such as language barriers and the inability to understand differences from a cultural perspective.

A screenshot of Desintation DC’s partnership with WeChat.

The WeChat DC City Experience is an interactive guide in Mandarin that helps Chinese tourists navigate the city and its attractions, both when planning their trips and after they’ve arrived.

The app’s map-driven layout of the top attractions also includes audio tours in Mandarin that explain historical and cultural significance of D.C. landmarks.

The app also steers Chinese visitors to more than just the traditional tourist attractions.

“We know that Chinese love nightlife; they love theater; they love outside activities, retail and, of course shopping and our food scene, and all of those will be on WeChat for those that are visiting the city,” Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC, told WTOP.

The DC WeChat guide will have new attractions and content added every week.

This expands Destination DC’s existing partnership with WeChat.

Its “Official Service” account had the highest traffic growth among U.S. cities on WeChat in 2016.

Destination DC isn’t just focusing on providing information to improve Chinese visitors’ experience. It is also focusing on making sure people in the hospitality industry here know how to make Chinese visitors welcome.

“We have a program called Welcome China, so that restaurants, hotels and others that offer services to visitors know exactly how to offer services to make Chinese visitors feel at home,” Ferguson said.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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