CHINA: Like Never BeforeThe China National Tourist Office (CNTO) this month launched a trade advertising campaign aimed at repositioning China in the U.S. market.

The campaign was created after extensive market research indicated that while China rates at the top of all Asian destinations for its history and "bucket list" sites such as the Great Wall and Forbidden City, Americans know very little about other experiences the vast country offers.

"The first part of our new strategy to broaden China's appeal to U.S. travelers was to enhance our country's brand," said Yaping Xue, director of the China National Tourist Office. "Our new logo evokes a sense of both traditional and contemporary China with the tagline 'China Like Never Before.'"

The messagingaims to compel the trade to consider China's contemporary and traditional offerings. It reminds travel consultants to highlight the fact that China's modern infrastructure makes it easy to explore even its most exotic destinations in comfort. As the CNTO points out, the country has 43 World Heritage sites and more than 3,000 four- and five-star properties.

Fishermen in Guilin, in southern China.Xue said that along with the launch of the brand campaign, the CNTO has been working with tour operators and agents to broaden China's travel portfolio for their clients, based on the survey's finding that Americans are curious and want to understand the culture and have experiences such as "living like a local."

New packages are already being introduced by tour operators such as Wendy Wu and General Tours that will take visitors on itineraries that include the Silk Road, the World Heritage Site of the terraced rice fields of the Hani people in southern China, and Yellow Mountain.

The survey, conducted by PhoCusWright, targeted Americans who had recently traveled to or were interested in traveling to Asia.

The first trade ads will run this month, followed in the spring with a consumer campaign that will adopt the same theme.

The campaigns focus on four areas of travel: luxury, soft adventure, educational and senior travel, with an objective to promote more off-the-beaten-path destinations.

More specifically, the campaign aims to make potential visitors aware of China's soft adventure, skiing, culinary tours, golfing and ways to sample local culture and tradition as well as viewing interesting modern architecture, design and art, and enjoying world-class shopping.

The trade advertising campaign is the CNTO's the first step in engaging travel professionals here, but the group says there are other initiatives being planned for next year to assist the trade in selling China.

The CNTO also created a video presentation explaining its new identity, which is being presented to the U.S. travel trade. It is also being translated for the travel industry in China, so that members of the industry there understand what the U.S. traveler is looking for. The video features travel experts offering views on current trends in travel to China and what they believe would entice more visitors to explore the country.

The new campaign's website is www.chinalikeneverbefore.com.

Follow Johanna Jainchill on Twitter @jjainchilltw. 

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