Tourism in China-featured

Paving the Way for Commerce and Tourism in China

Tong Guili, Deputy Mayor of Hangzhou, China (left) and Miami Beach Chamber Executive Vice President and COO Ceci Velasco.

The East Coast of China is known as the ‘Gold Coast’ for a reason. Flying into Beijing, the International Airport is an overwhelming first impression as a sensational work of modern architecture. The affluence of the area is only reinforced further as the tour buses pass the designer shops of Prada, Gucci and Tiffany lining the Commercial Center.

What’s most surprising is the density of urbanization: home to tens of millions of people, the entrepreneurialism is evident everywhere as the landscape of signage from International Fortune 500 corporations is smattered with kiosks and street vendors. Capitalism would seem to be contradictory when taking into consideration their form of government, but it is foremost in the culture. Met by a Beijing native who is a CEO of a manufacturing business and his wife, I was surprised to find they were unfamiliar with the downtown center surrounding the JW Marriott where we were housed. I was informed that there are four commercial centers in Beijing as opposed to one “downtown” that services the enormous population. With approximately 24 million people, it isn’t surprising that the fast paced growth is somewhat lost on the locals with no need. Traffic is a deterring factor to a casual curiosity in learning the growth aspects of the city.

Intermixed with the cosmopolitan areas are the ancient ruins which remind the American visitor of how young the United States really is in comparison. Tour guides are very well-educated and candid to give the Chinese perspective from a culture that predates most modern societies. The pride in relaying the details of the dynasties and the eccentric stories of the ruling families was evident with each guide.

While sitting in the Renaissance Shanghai, the tallest hotel in the city, I’m reminded of the view from the John Hancock overlooking Chicago. The major difference is that in Chicago you can see O’Hare Airport past the skyline – but in Shanghai it is a spectacular show of architecture and lighting that goes as far as the eye can see; the sheer density of the new construction is shocking. In Beijing each shop has at least one person who speaks some English, usually accompanied by their English name – given to them in school. It took great pains to get someone to admit that their birth name was different and to teach me their Chinese name. In Shanghai there are not as many English-speakers in shops and English signage at historic sites is not available, which is a marked difference than what is found in the capital of Beijing. From a customer service standpoint, they expect you to buy the first item you touch and immediately go for the close –no allowance for window shopping- the sale is most important, as they realize the time tourists have is very limited.

A side trip to Suzhou and Hangzhou also was surprising in different ways. These two ‘smaller’ cities – although still in the double digit millions – are populated by the upwardly mobile and the wealthy – Hangzhou being known for having the most per capita millionaires in the country. Our group of Chamber of Commerce Executives joined a business expo banquet where I was graciously asked to join the head table by Ms. Tong Guill, the Deputy Mayor of Hangzhou. Of all the chambers represented, she later told me that Miami Beach was the most global and international. In fact, seated across from me was one of the owners of Bazaar Restaurant in Miami Beach’s SLS Hotelpurely coincidental; this demonstrated the reach that Miami Beach has had in international investors.

We were able to have some business meetings outlining the regulations for foreign companies in China, banking restrictions, approved business models, and more. For example, the generational difference between the older workforce growing up under the strict communist rule and the younger professionals who have their pick of high paying positions provides for a complicated human resources dynamic as the more conservative and less communicative professional is at the management level: this was one cause for employee turnover identified in a presentation by Beecher Ashely-Brown, an HR consultant affiliated with Aon Hewitt China. The bottom line: everything is possible in China, but nothing is easy.

I was overcome with sheer awe in the Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City. The Summer Palace enabled me to sense how a different culture existed with Royals and Dynasties, so unknown in our short history. I wasn’t the only one; many Chinese had traveled from inland for the same tourist experience. The rural Chinese had never seen a foreigner before and I was often asked to pose for pictures. China was not on my bucket list, but I admit it was fascinating and the prospect of doing business with their powerful economy is one that should be entertained.

Check Also

The 3rd Annual South Beach Seafood Festival, presented by Hess Wines and hosted by Coca-Cola, will hit the sands of South Beach October 21-24, 2015, with the main festival to be held Saturday, October 24 from 1-9PM at 7th and Ocean Drive in Lummus Park. Events will be happening all week to showcase the great local culinary talent of Miami and Miami Beach and kick off Miami’s favorite season, Stone Crab Season. Events will be happening all week to showcase the great local culinary talent of Miami and Miami Beach and kick off Miami’s favorite season, Stone Crab Season. Events will begin on Wednesday night with the Hess Select Wine Pairing Evening at Joe’s Stone Crab, Thursday night is the GOYA Foods’s Cooking & Cocktails Interactive Dinner, hosted by STOLI, the Vodka, Friday night is the annual Chef Showdown, sponsored by Range Rover, Whole Foods, & Bacardi, and Saturday features the all-day South Beach Seafood Festival. In addition to promoting all the local culinary talent in the area, the event benefits Community Initiatives Foundation in support of the EAT SMART Campaign to fight against childhood hunger, childhood obesity, and assisting the community to find the perfect balance through nutritional awareness & individual development in Miami Dade County. The festival is proud to announce the current participating restaurants at this year’s Main Event, the Saturday All Day Festival. What makes us unique? These top Miami restaurants and chefs will pop up mini café’s on the sand to create not a sampling event, but an EATING Paradise with over 50 Menu Items for seafoodies to choose from and indulge for ONE Day Only. This year’s participating restaurants at the Saturday October 24th festival include Joe’s Stone Crabs, Naked Taco, Red, the Steakhouse, Smith & Wollensky, Red Fish Grill, CJs Crab Shack, Drunken Dragon, A Fish Called Avalon, Oceanaire, City Hall the Restaurant, CIBO, Tarpon Bend, Poseidon, and Whole Foods. Guests will dive in to items like Stone Crabs, Lobster Waffle Cones, Steak & Lobster Skewers, Shrimp Tacos, Oysters, Shrimp Cocktail, Gyros, Crab Cakes, Grouper in a Bag, Lobster Mac ‘N Cheese and more. These delicious menu items are available for guests between $5-$10. Thousands will flock to the sands of SoBe on October 24th to experience these seasonal selections of Miami’s top chefs and restaurants. The festival also features live music, culinary and mixology demonstrations, a kids zone, health village, and VIP hospitality benefits for the all access guests. There is fun for all ages with countless interactive zones, retail villages, and more. Festival major sponsors include title sponsor, Hess Select Wines, supporting title sponsors, Premier Beverage, Bacardi, Stoli the Vodka, and Herradura, presenting sponsors Coca-Cola, GOYA, Range Rover and the Warren Henry Automotive Group, and hosting sponsors Heineken Light and Whole Foods Market, among others. For a limited time- EARLY BITE Tickets start at $25 Festival Access. This year, ALL Festival Access tickets include complimentary all day open bar*. For more information & to purchase tickets, please visit, follow us @SobeSeafoodFeston Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Check out our #SobeSeafood! To celebrate this announcement, Sobe Seafood Fest in partnership with Guerra Marketing is launching a giveaway contest valued at $3,800. Get ready to enter to win the: CHEF STONEY’S #AREYOUSHUCKINGME VIP EXPERIENCE, which includes package tickets for the VIP tickets for the weekend events, a 2 night stay at the W Hotel South Beach, restaurant certificates, Hess Wine gift baskets, beach lounges, Boucher Brothers Management jetski rides, cooking classes, and more.

3rd Annual South Beach Seafood Festival returns

The 3rd Annual South Beach Seafood Festival, presented by Hess Wines and hosted by Coca-Cola, ...