When President Barack Obama announced the new visa agreement between China and the United States in November 2014, I made a few recommendations to help the government, convention and visitors bureaus, and local businesses make better preparations to welcome Chinese tourists.

In February, I noticed Nordstrom posted "Gong Xi Fa Cai" or "Gong Hey Fat Choy" signage throughout the store during the Lunar New Year period, the biggest and the most important festival for Chinese. I also heard there were places and communities celebrating the Lunar New Year across the U.S. with fireworks and small parades.

It seems to me that we are making an effort in the U.S. to attract and welcome more Chinese tourists, but I question: Have we done enough?

I went on a leisure trip to Japan a few weeks ago in March. By comparison, I have found Japan actually does a much better job in attracting and welcoming the Chinese tourists than the U.S. does.

I traveled to Tokyo, Kyoto and Mount Fuji — three must-go destinations for most international travelers to Japan. I could hear Chinese being spoken almost everywhere I visited. How could Japan make that happen? What have they done?

First of all, language assistance is available in all major tourist destinations. For example, tourists could find maps and brochures written in Chinese in all local tourist information centers or even some popular tourist sites (also available in Japanese, English, Korean and some other languages). Most train or metro stations use Japanese, English, Korean and Chinese for their station names.

That's not all. When traveling in buses in Kyoto, the name of each stop will be announced in Japanese, English, Korean and Mandarin Chinese. Such announcements will also include a short English description to highlight the tourist spots around each bus stop. Because of that, few international travelers would miss a stop, and it becomes easy to travel with public transportation in Kyoto.

Additionally, many stores in Japan have tax-free promotions that are tailored to Chinese tourists. As illustrated in the picture I took in the front of a department store in Kyoto (at right), these promotions were mostly written in Chinese.

The Chinese reads: "Our store is offering 8 percent off the retail price (equivalent to the sales taxes). When using a credit or debit card issued in China (usually with a label of "China Unionpay"), customers could get an additional 5 percent off." In total, a Chinese tourist could get up to 13 percent off the retail price throughout the store.

Such effort pays off in a big way. According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, the country reported a record of 1.387 million foreign tourists in February. In particular, visitors from Chinese-speaking regions showed an increase of 57.6 percent from February 2014, largely because they were visiting Japan during the Chinese New Year holidays.

The visitors from mainland China reached 359,100, 159.8 percent increase from last year, followed by visitors from South Korea (321,600), Taiwan (277,600) and Hong Kong (109,400 a 68.8 percent increase).

Analysts suggest the ease of visa requirements, the depreciation of yen and the nation's expanded duty-free system all contributed to the increase of the Chinese tourists.

Referring back to the U.S., we have recently eased the visa requirements for the Chinese to visit the U.S., but we definitely have not done enough. What else can we do to catch the business opportunities offered by the Chinese tourists? Please feel free to share your suggestions with us.