The world came to Tacoma last week, and soon Tacoma will be making itself known to that world — or if not the world then at least China, Korea, Germany and the United Kingdom.
A broadcasting team commissioned by Travel Tacoma + Pierce County and Visit Rainier has been in Pierce County shooting videos aimed at international visitors, and the message soon will be shown online.
Thursday, it was China’s turn.
“The first impression, you are very close to nature. Ten or 20 minutes, you’re in a forest,” said Wuzhi Lu, lately of Arizona by way of Beijing.
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“Tacoma has a small-town feel,” he said. “You can get away from the hustle and bustle. For Chinese travelers, they always have to deal with lines and crowds. Normally, people like to get away. This is a perfect place to sit back and relax, have good food.”
Each day, last Tuesday through Friday, four international presenters visited sites throughout the county, and each day began at Mount Rainier.
Before visiting the waterfront and the Fuzhou Ting, the ornate pavilion in Chinese Reconciliation Park, Lu spent Thursday afternoon at Hotel Murano. He was photographed while robed at Savi Day Spa and while sipping a mai tai at the bar inside Bite. He stood outside, admiring the green-glass sculpture near the hotel entrance.
“We see Pierce County as an international destination,” said Jaime Vogt, vice president of marketing at Travel Tacoma + Pierce County.
“We’ve identified these markets,” she said. “They’re already coming here. They’re a great fit, and they have a lot of growth potential. There are a lot more flights, especially from China and Korea. Those markets are trending more. I’m confident that it has the potential to grow.”
Travel Tacoma + Pierce County and Visit Rainier will share the cost of the video productions, $33,000, which includes subsequent, ongoing exposure. All funds expended will derive from a local lodging tax, and funding will not be borne by county taxpayers.
The videos taken in Tacoma are narrated by native speakers — Chinese, Korean, German and English — rather than being translated. The final two-to-three-minute videos will be broadcast on websites targeting international travelers, including visitusa.com and visittheusa.com. The minidocumentaries from Pierce County also should be available at traveltacoma.com by mid-June.
“In 2014-2015 we did try to focus on a national audience,” Vogt said. “This year, with the (National Parks) centennial, we’re adding Mount Rainier.”
Mount Rainier, she said, “is our U.S. Open for 2016.”
International visitors, she said, “have been to New York, to Las Vegas. Now they’re looking for a more authentic experience.”
Videographer Bogdan Zlatkov, Bulgarian by birth, has been collecting the images — from the mountain to the Harmon Tap Room, from Dock Street Marina to the Tacoma Art Museum, the Museum of Glass and beyond.
International visitors, he said, “have been to the iconic cities. That’s not the U.S.
“Now they want to dig deeper into the American spirit, especially in the West. They want to see the real America.” Real, like in Tacoma.
He finds the City of Destiny to be a place “where you can relate to the people, not the herd; real people, real life.”
“I could see myself living here someday,” he said.
C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535