About 12 miles east of Los Angeles, the suburb of San Gabriel is becoming a popular destination for Chinese tourists.
Although San Gabriel, a city of 40,000, has “no beaches, no major landmarks and few A-list shops and restaurants” to speak of, its perks for Chinese visitors and residents alike are many. According to the Seattle Times, the suburb boasts a “thriving” array of Chinese restaurants, multilingual travel agencies, Asian banks, and Chinese-style hotels. And the list continues to grow. A 316-room Crowne Plaza Hotel is expected to open next to the town’s Hilton in 2015.
One of the town’s more prominent points of interest is 219,000-square-foot San Gabriel Square, which hosts so many luxury retailers that it is now informally known as the Great Mall of China.
“San Gabriel is famous in China. It has become a brand name destination,” said chief executive of Hing Wa Lee Group David Lee. Lee’s business recently opened a jewelry store in San Gabriel to cater to the city’s Chinese tourists, who form about 70 percent of the clientele.
Julie Tang, general manager of the San Gabriel travel agency Park Place International, echoed Lee’s comments, saying that San Gabriel’s “name recognition has become luxury.”
About a third of Chinese travelers in the United States visit Los Angeles, and, according to the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, Chinese tourists spend approximately $3,000 on each California trip, more than any other country.
What’s more, emigration to the United States is becoming a popular option for affluent Chinese with concerns about the future of their nation’s economy and environment. In fact, more than 60 percent of millionaires in China are considering emigration, according to the Hurun Report, a publication that documents wealth in the country.