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Jerry Brown goes electric to lure Chinese tourists

April 12, 2013|By Anthony York
  • Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan will be featured in new online and billboard ads aimed at drawing Chinese tourists to California.
Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan will be featured in new online and billboard… (Anthony York )

SHANGHAI -- A trip that has been marked by solemn meetings with Communist Party officials in dark suits took a decidedly different tack Friday as Gov. Jerry Brown helped launch a new ad campaign to attract Chinese tourists to California. 

The glass ceilinged ballroom of the Ritz Carlton throbbed with a mashup of house music versions of famous Golden State songs like "California Dreamin" and "If You're Going to San Francisco."

Quick-cut images of iconic California locations radiated from a pair of large video screens amid blue strobe  lights that danced off the mirrored walls. 

"This is a bit more glitzy than I'm used to," allowed the 75-year old governor. "But it pales in comparison to the sparkle of California."

The new $1.6-million effort to draw Chinese visitors to the state will include a dozen electronic billboards around Shanghai, a city of glass skyscrapers and neon lights that rise high above the Huangpu River. Online ads and promotion through Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging site, are also part of the plan. 

Tourism from China is booming, says Caroline Beteta, president and chief executive of the state tourism commission. An estimated 707,000 Chinese visitors spent $2.4 billion in California last year, up from $1.5 billion spent by about 517,000 visitors in 2011. 

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anthony.york@latimes.com

@anthonyyorklat

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