Noting demographic and economic trends, I predicted in 2011 that Route 66 would see a growing influx of Chinese tourists.
Here’s the latest sign. This week, the Shanghai General Motors Tour of Route 66 began in Amarillo and will continue to Santa Monica. The tour, organized by Open Road Productions of Brighton, Michigan, features Chinese Cadillac owners and dealers driving Cadillac SRXs or Escalades. Simultaneously, another group of Chinese tourists is traveling east from Santa Monica to Amarillo.
From the news release by Rick Thomas at Open Road:
“We provide participants a chance to see how Americans traveled during the heyday of Route 66, the 1950s, but from the perspective of today,” Thomas added.
The Chinese economy has been booming for many years, and there is a growing number of young, wealthy citizens with large amounts of discretionary income. “More than 30,000 Cadillacs were sold in China in 2013, and many of these new owners crave the chance to explore like we do in the US,” Thomas said. […]
General Motors recently invested US$1.3 billion in a new manufacturing plant in China, and has committed considerable resources toward promoting the brand. Its current ad campaign centers on Route 66 and is called Operation Freedom. “This tour complements Cadillac’s campaign wonderfully. Being able to experience Route 66 in a Cadillac is the pinnacle of their car owning experience,” Thomas reported.
Thomas isn’t exaggerating about the Route 66 influence on Chinese Cadillac owners. A number of videos hawking Cadillacs to the Chinese market are floating around on YouTube, including this one.
Also, I’ve been told by several sources on the road that Chinese television channel ICN now is shooting a documentary or reality show on Route 66. The show was announced in February. Here’s a teaser video from the network, requesting “partners” for the production:
It’s predicted the number of Chinese tourists in the U.S. will reach 100 million a year by 2020. These campaigns probably make Route 66 a big beneficiary of those numbers.
(Hat tip: Nick Gerlich; image of Chinese tourists at Roy’s in Amboy, California, in 2011 by jstdadd via Flickr)