- Associated Press - Sunday, June 1, 2014

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - How do you say hello in Chinese?

Bruce Simon can tell you.

The broker and owner of Prime Properties of Jackson Hole is catering to an emerging tourist market with his recently opened East Meets West Chinese Information Center in Jackson.

Simon’s center provides translation as well as language and cultural lessons to businesses around town. For visitors, the post offers tour booking, ride-along Chinese-speaking guides and more.

“Jackson is falling behind in its tourist marketing or business for foreign visitors,” he said. “And since the Chinese visitor is a huge portion of the population, I thought it would make sense. Chinese tourism is changing the world tourist economy.”

The center opened May 1 and is managed by Li Wang, who teaches Mandarin Chinese at Jackson Hole Community School, Simon said. She is originally from Xian, China.

“We’re testing the market, but we’ve gone viral already, there’s been so much interest in it,” he told the Jackson Hole News & Guide (http://bit.ly/1iwCilD).

China’s population is 1.2 billion, and most Chinese people have heard about Yellowstone National Park, Simon said. Chinese people typically visit big American cities such as Los Angeles and New York City on their first trip to the United States, he said.

“The second time they come they all want to see Yellowstone, so all the gateway communities see an influx of Chinese tourists,” he said. “It’s projected to continue and grow.”

This year, Simon said, 60 million Chinese are expected to travel overseas. In five years that number is projected to reach 100 million.

The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce has been following the numbers, too, communications manager Kate Foster said.

“It’s certainly a target market for the chamber,” she said. Especially in the offseason.

“As people may have noticed, there’s been lots of tour buses in the spring,” she said. “It’s helping to fill our rooms in a traditionally quieter time of the year. It helps businesses and the community as a whole.”

Simon has traveled extensively in China and knows a lot about the economy and culture, he said.

“When I travel as a tourist in China I always feel very welcome,” he said.

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