President Barack Obama announced a new visa plan between China and the U.S. during his visit to Beijing last month. The plan will extend the current one-year multiple-entry Chinese student visas to five years multiple-entry, as well as the one-year multiple-entry business and tourist visas to 10 years multiple-entry.

As equal treatment, similar changes will also apply to the U.S. citizens who want to visit China. The White House expects this new visa agreement will bring more Chinese tourists to the U.S., and thus create 440,000 jobs and contribute about $85 billion a year to the economy.

Referring to the 2011 Lodging Industry Profile prepared by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, China did not even rank among the top 10 countries with most tourists entering the U.S. in 2010. But in just three years, as reported in the most recent 2014 Lodging Industry Profile, China ranked No. 8 on the list, recording 1.8 million Chinese entering the U.S. in 2013.

Now that the visa barrier has been lowered since November, the number of Chinese tourists is likely to double or even triple in a year or two.

Is our travel, tourism and hospitality industry ready to welcome that many Chinese tourists? We had better be. Otherwise, more Chinese visitors could result in a love-hate relationship between the tourists and local residents. Now, the question is: What can we do to welcome the Chinese tourists?

For the government and CVBs (Convention & Visitors Bureaus):

  • Create and promote a variety of travel destinations/plans to the Chinese tourists. Many Chinese tourists will only visit New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and a couple more gateway cities during their first visit to the U.S., but this country definitely has more to offer. We want them to experience something new every time they visit the U.S.
  • Develop new business opportunities with other professional organizations. For example, we can bring in a group of Chinese engineers for a one-week training session, followed by an engineering field trip and some other travel activities.
  • Offer training to local businesses about Chinese etiquette and their consumer behavior.
  • Get involved in new development projects to welcome Chinese tourists.

For local businesses (e.g. hotels and restaurants):

  • Use both Chinese and English in printed materials (e.g. business cards, welcome letter and other marketing materials).
  • Have a service menu written in Chinese.
  • Have one or two Chinese-speaking TV channels available or to provide free WiFi service so that they can stream Chinese-speaking TV programs with their mobile devices.
  • Tailor to the needs of Chinese tourists (e.g., providing electronic tea kettle, loose leaf tea, bottled water, slippers, etc.)
  • Have a list of nearby Chinese take-outs or Asian restaurants available upon request.
  • Prepare a room service and/or restaurant menu with pictures and Chinese descriptions (more than just word-to-word translations).
  • Hire to Chinese-speaking employees or to prepare a Q&A list in Chinese, which includes frequently-asked questions by Chinese tourists (and the answers).
  • Provide training to employees about Chinese etiquette and their consumer behavior.

Is that all? What else do you want to add to the list?