500K Chinese visitors expected to visit Yellowstone, this year

There are a lot of places to get visitor information about Jackson Hole and the greater Yellowstone region — unless you’re looking for one printed in Mandarin Chinese.

Then the guide you’re looking for is Escape.

The glossy mag hit stands and the Internet about a week ago — with 15,000 in the communities around Yellowstone National Park, 15,000 in China and 420,000 digital copies for all Chinese citizens who have applied to renew travel visas.

The total nearly matches the number of Chinese nationals that Yellowstone expects to see this summer.

“That’s an increase from 300-odd-thousand last year,” said Brian Riley, publisher of Escape. “That’s a huge increase.”…

The former investment banker visited Japan as an exchange student at the age of 14 — “I know Japanese like the back of my hand,” he said — and he ran a division of a bank in Singapore for about 15 years. For the past 15 or 16 years he has continued to travel regularly to China and other Asian countries.

“When I retired from [banking] I moved to Jackson,” he said. “I’ve been constantly looking for something that uses my business and entrepreneurial background.”

When he began to see more and more Chinese tourists coming to Jackson Hole, and began to hear that the upward trend in visitation was predicted to continue, he found what he was looking for…

A well-circulated statistic has the typical Chinese tourist spending $6,000 on a visit to America.

“Assuming they spend a lot on airfare and other visits, even if it’s just one-third [of] that, that’s $1 billion spent in Yellowstone,” he said…

And while these tourists may look average in their rental cars and Western clothes, chances are that they are wealthy.

“They own their own factories,” Riley said. “They are not factory workers or store employees. They are big business owners,” and they want to leave some of their money behind as they travel.

Too many local American communities are hypocrites – like our government – when it comes to putting real business interests on the line. The Feds blather about the shortage of Chinese investment in American companies. Then, Congress, the State Department or the White House rolls out some jingoistic rant when actual offers are made to buy American companies or start up a branch of a Chinese business.

Local yokels whine about shortages of tourists, the small amount of foreign direct investment in their state or city economy. Followed up by fear and trembling press conferences, Tea Party rallies, lifetime fools whining about the dangers of foreign money entering the economy.

If this nation spent as much time entertaining real investment from China in the talent and experience we have to offer – as we spend whining in fear – we’d probably be a year or two closer to climbing back to cyclic normal from the Great Recession.

And only one person in Jackson Hole got around to producing a local guide in Mandarin.

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