- Associated Press - Sunday, November 8, 2015

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - Merchants in downtown Jackson say they noticed an increase in the number of Chinese tourists who are making the Yellowstone National Park region a destination.

Throughout the peak of this year’s tourist season, Chinese groups booked five to 10 rooms for one to three nights “several times a week,” said Heather Falk, director of sales and marketing at the Lexington Hotel and Suites.

“They’re getting very savvy,” Falk said. “A lot came through Expedia and Booking.com.”

While there were some challenges with cultural and language barriers, Falk said, nearly every group had at least one English-speaker and the Lexington had a part-time employee who had experience with Chinese people and customs.

Guests “were very excited, very grateful,” and they were spending money in downtown shops and restaurants, Falk told the Jackson Hole News & Guide (https://bit.ly/1WFPs3x).

Andy Nichols at Alaska Fur Gallery said he enjoyed brisk business from Chinese travelers, especially in the early and late parts of the summer season. He went so far as to guess that Chinese tourists accounted for up to a quarter of his summer sales this year.

“That translates to quite a large amount of revenue,” he said.

Brian Riley, who runs a business that markets the Yellowstone National Park region in China, said Asian visitors are paying more to spend a whole day and night in nice lodges in Jackson like the Lexington or the Rustic Inn on North Cache.

The next step will be to promote Jackson Hole’s winter activities in China, Riley said

Anna Cole, communications manager at Jackson Hole Ski Resort, said she has seen a few Chinese skiers on the snow, but at this point China is still an “exploratory market.”

“We’re trying to learn more about it,” she said. ” . This winter there could be potentially more, knowing some of the contacts we made last year. We’re kind of learning and see where it comes from. It is a market where things are happening.”

Riley is less reserved, saying it is going through the “roof.”

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Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, https://www.jhnewsandguide.com

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