New Cathay flights give Washington, Arlington hope for more Asian event groups

Two tourism organisations in Capitol Region, the US are looking to attract more Asian business events on the back of Cathay Pacific’s four-times weekly Hong Kong-Washington DC service starting September 15.

At a recent travel trade workshop in Hong Kong, held to promote the Capitol Region for holidays, a spokesperson for Destination DC told TTGmice that the new flight would likely result in heavier business travel traffic to the US capital from Hong Kong as well as the Asian-Pacific region.

Heavier business travel traffic from Asia-Pacific to Washington DC is expected now with Cathay Pacific’s new service

The spokesperson said Washington DC gets mostly medical meetings which have brought in an increased number of international attendees.

She added: “Asia as a whole is a large growth market for us and having this key hub (Hong Kong) is paramount to our success since access is one of the major reasons that meeting professionals choose a destination.

“This ties into our work as the first DMO (destination marketing organisation) in the US to officially partner with WeChat and to grow our Welcome China programme. Within the past two years we have been more active in our Asian markets. We are focusing heavily on pharmaceutical (meetings) and incentive (programmes) in Asia.”

While Hong Kong will get most of the attention in Destination DC’s Asian foray, the spokesperson said no specific campaigns have been planned for the Hong Kong market at present.

Over at Arlington City, a quick car ride from Washington DC, the Arlington Convention and Visitors Service is partnering with the latter and regional organisations including Capitol Region USA (CRUSA) to win over events from Asia.

A spokesperson with Arlington Convention and Visitors Service said: “We see great potential for increased business events and business travel in Arlington, especially for planners who are seeking excellent value and convenience next to Washington DC. Our 45 hotels have rates averaging 20 per cent less than Washington hotels.

“Arlington is primarily a corporate/government business destination (around 42 per cent) with a strong group, conference and meeting base (30 per cent). Specifically for the South Asian markets, we hear that almost 12 per cent of travellers say that business is a big reason for their visits, and that number grows every year.”

Arlington welcomes business events from various industries although technology and defense-related meetings are most prominent.

However, work appears to be cut out for Capitol Region’s destination marketing specialists. Some Hong Kong travel specialists told TTGmice that demand so far for the destination has been lukewarm.

Towa Tours Hong Kong’s head of MICE & business development, Roseanna Leung, said she sees “stable demand” for the US, as her agency handles mostly the insurance and financial industry, with top agents heading to the Million Dollar Round Table conference in the US every year.

“Our clients also arrange corporate visits to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, Buffalo, Orlando and Hawaii every few years. However, they are likely to make only day trips to Washington DC as it has limited event facilities and too many security concerns.”

Cecilia Yeung, deputy managing director of Jetour M.I.C.E. Service, suggested that “a massive campaign to promote the region” for business events might improve client perceptions of the destination.

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