SF mayor and Hilton look to attract Chinese tourists

August 16, 2011 12:09:25 PM PDT
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and a leading national hotel chain are joining forces to launch a new program to attract Chinese tourists and give the city a much needed economic boost.

Hilton Huanying is debuting today at 13 Hilton Hotels worldwide. Four of the hotels are in the Bay Area - two in San Francisco, at Union Square and in the Financial District, one is at San Francisco International Airport and another in Santa Clara.

The program is aimed at tourists from China and focuses on the visitors' arrival, their room and breakfast. At arrival a staff person will be available who is fluent in Mandarin. The breakfast, so important to the Chinese, will feature foods visitors are familiar with.

"When you welcome the Chinese visitors for business and tourism and you give them a good breakfast, because you know at the end of the day they are going to say 'hey we also want to visit Napa, what is this American steak all about. Get me to North Beach for some of that pasta you got.' The breakfast would be their traditional thing," said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

A woman who brings Chinese tourists to the U.S. says the attention to the room, with Chinese tea and slippers, is important to the Chinese.

"It is very different at hotels in China then here because they always will ask 'if this is a five star hotel, why don't they have any slippers?' So I saw the slippers (at the Hilton Hotel) and thought that solves that problem," said Mickie Duan of Great Holiday Tours.

Mayor Lee was asked if he was doing a commercial for Hilton at the expense of so many hotels in the city. He said he'll promote other hotels when they take similar steps.

"We are an international city and I'll do anything I can to welcome in more of the international business from all over the world and in Europe. We have done that traditionally. I will be doing that, I will be a great cheerleader for that," said Mayor Lee.

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