"We have the ability to satisfy someone who comes from a long distance," Southa says.
Robert Sun, founder of the American Chinese CEO Society, says he has taken guests from China's Shandong province to South Coast for dinner and to buy presents.
"They fall in love because of the large number of brand names. No other place can compare," he recalls. Foreign visitors are familiar with Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, Sun added, "but now they see South Coast as the best shopping. When somebody has a good experience buying, like, a bag, they go and tell their friends."
If there's one thing missing from the experience for shoppers from China, it's a Chinese restaurant. And shoppers have pointed that out, said Escher, who's been scouting candidates when he travels overseas. Officials hope to make an announcement by the lunar new year in February, an event they anticipate will be covered prominently by the ethnic media.
"Shopping," Escher says, "is the No. 1 activity when people travel."