Overseas students take a Chinese language class at Yiwu Commercial and Industrial College in Zhejiang province. Photo for China Daily/ Overseas students take a Chinese language class at Yiwu Commercial and Industrial College in Zhejiang province. ZHANG JIANCHENG)
In 2016, almost 3 million Chinese tourists visited the U.S., and more than one in three chose LA as the first stop of their trip.
Research by the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that Chinese tourists spent $33 billion in the country that year, and experts expect tourist numbers to continue to grow.
"In the Chinese outbound tourism industry, culture and language gaps prevent Chinese tourists from having an optimal travel experience in foreign countries," said Betty Ban, co-founder of Voyadi, which offers personalized experiences for international travelers. Its primary market is Chinese outbound tourists.
"We need more Chinese-speaking job candidates to work in marketing and in customer-facing roles," Ban said.
Xiaowei Ding, co-founder and CEO of Voxelcloud, a startup in LA that provides automated medical diagnosis assistance through AI and cloud computing technologies, said the rapid growth of venture capital and China's huge financial market means "companies whose employees can communicate in Chinese stand out in raising funds, marketing and sales".
Jeff Allred, CEO of the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership, predicted that demand for people able to speak Chinese would continue to rise.
His organization is a regional, nonprofit corporation that supports businesses, nonprofits and local governments in the San Gabriel Valley, the eastern section of LA that is famous for Asian cuisine. More than half the Chinese population in the U.S. lives in the area, according to research by Asian-Americans Advancing Justice, a nonprofit legal aid and civil rights organization.
Reaching Chinese customers is not just about speaking the language, though, Allred said. His organization also helps enterprises in the San Gabriel Valley to engage with customers via WeChat, the instant-messaging and social media app.
Winston Xie, head of user acquisition for Airmule, said, "You have to understand the market in order to tailor an effective marketing strategy."