Tracy Farhadn SCVB Office

Tracy Farhad, executive director of the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau, welcomes a guest.

Len Wood, Staff

An estimated 230,000 annual visitors arrived in the Santa Ynez Valley from China last year. That figure comes from Solvang’s Chamber of Commerce, which recently announced more than 1.5 million tourists visit the city annually.

To help local businesses attract and accommodate visitors from China, the chamber and the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau (SCVB) are co-sponsoring a free seminar, titled “Monetizing Opportunities with Chinese Visitors.”

The event will happen Thursday, Jan. 18, beginning at 5 p.m. for registration and networking, and continue until 7 p.m. The seminar will be held at the Wildling Museum on Mission Drive in Solvang. All local business owners, managers and staff and the public are invited to attend.

Tracy Farhad, executive director of the SCVB, noted this is the second year Solvang’s Conference & Visitors Bureau has partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to expand the “China Ready” initiatives. These include working with local businesses, Chinese tour operators, travel agents and media to embrace Chinese visitors year-round, Farhad said.

Seminar attendees will learn basic Chinese cultural knowledge and language skills that can be utilized to attract Chinese visitors and foster sales opportunities.

Guest presenters

Robert Ayres, a Santa Ynez Valley native who pursued a 35-year career in China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore, is one of two presenters. Ayres, who held regional and global roles in telecommunications and financial services, recently returned to the Santa Ynez Valley and began consulting with businesses and organizations to help them effectively interact with Asian visitors.

Guifen Wen, a native of Beijing who served as the New Mexico State Trade representative and economic adviser, will also give a presentation. A graduate of China University of Economics and Trade, Wen received her master's degree in international business and Economics and resides in the Valley with Ayres, her husband.

New Year opportunity

The Chinese Lunar New Year of 2018 begins Friday, Feb. 16, and will last until Friday, March 2. Also known as the Spring Festival Holiday, the Lunar New Year reportedly is celebrated by 20 percent of the world’s population. Because it is considered an official public holiday, Chinese people may receive seven day's absence from work from Feb. 15 to 21. Schools in China and Asia are closed for almost a month, and an estimated 200 million Mainland Chinese travelers cover long distances during that time.

“Monetizing Opportunities with Chinese Visitors” is intended to optimize the Chinese New Year opportunity. To attend the free seminar, send an RSVP by Tuesday, Jan. 16, to taryn@solvangchamber.com or call 688-0701.

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