MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Chinese officials are currently in Myrtle Beach, meeting with area leaders to tour the area and hold discussions.
A Chinese secretary general is among the officials in Myrtle Beach this week, reporter Amy Lipman discovered when he handed her his business card. That business card when translated said his name is Zheng Yong Sheng and he is the secretary general with a Chinese government committee on youth education development.
One person with the group said they would be touring Myrtle Beach for a couple of days.
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Brad Dean said investors were among those visiting to look at possibilities for investment in the Myrtle Beach market.
He said investors from China visit frequently to explore the options for opening new businesses and services that he said enhance tourism.
"Ultimately their investment will be determined by partnerships they create and whether or not they will be able to leverage their resources amidst the other opportunities in the market, but from our perspective this is just another way that we sell the Myrtle Beach area," he said.
This visit is separate from Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes' and Dean's visit to China next week.
Mayor Rhodes and Dean will be attending the Brand USA China-U.S. Tourism Leadership Summit in Yinchuan, the capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China. The focus of the summit will be to discuss mutually-beneficial strategies of joint marketing, to highlight a "new era of Chinese-U.S. tourism cooperation," and to promote travel to both countries, according to the event's website.
Dean said this will be his fourth Brand USA summit, third in China, and he plans to expand on relationships he has built in the past, but he also has new goals in mind this year.
"We know that hundreds of thousands of Chinese will be coming over here to visit for the next few years and we want the Myrtle Beach area to be a place where they will consider visiting," he said.
He plans to request the Chinese National Tourism Administration help create direct flights from major Chinese cities to Atlanta and Charlotte.
"As we know from past history, if you can get to our regional airports, it's relatively easy and generally affordable to get here," he said.
A couple of new direct flight routes could mean thousands more tourists, and tax dollars, for Myrtle Beach.
"It's the fastest growing source of inbound international travel and the top source of inbound travel outside of North America," he said.
The Brand USA summit switches off between China and America every year and Dean said he also plans to request the summit come to the Southeast, so that people attending it can visit Myrtle Beach.
The Chamber is paying for both the mayor's and Dean's trips with private contributions. Dean said the cost for both of them is about $5,000.
The mayor will be staying for about a week after the leadership summit to discuss education and student exchange opportunities between Myrtle Beach and China with the visiting secretary general.
Mayor Rhodes did not provide any updates on the Chinese Cultural Center discussed earlier this year, saying there won't be any updates until the papers are signed.
Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus was also at the meeting today with Chinese leaders. He said he is not going to China next week.