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A special 2018 Chinese New Year promotion was launched this month in Solvang to make visitors from China feel especially welcome in the city.

The promotion is part of the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau’s ongoing “China Ready” initiatives and was launched in cooperation with the Solvang Chamber of Commerce, said Tracy Farhad, executive director of the SCVB.

Chinese New Year 2018 was Friday and festivities in China traditionally begin the night before.

But unlike New Year’s Eve celebrations in the United States, the festivities surrounding the Chinese holiday — also known as the Spring Festival — continue for two weeks. This year, the celebration will culminate March 2.

“Solvang is excited to welcome many Chinese visitors year-round, and we especially want them to enjoy our hospitality during their Spring Festival vacation,” Farhad said.

“Similar to our December holidays, Chinese New Year is celebrated by 20 percent of the world’s population,” she said. “Schools are on vacation for a month, and an estimated 200 million mainland Chinese people travel long distances during this time.”

To welcome Chinese visitors during the holiday, the SCVB has produced window posters that say “Happy Chinese New Year 2018” in Mandarin Chinese that local businesses can display now until March 3.

The signs are available at the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau administration office at 436 Alisal Road, Suite G, and the Solvang Chamber of Commerce office in Fredrik’s Court at 485 Alisal Road, No. 245, or by calling the SCVB at 688-6144 to have them delivered.

SCVB has also developed temporary sidewalk chalk stencils in Mandarin characters that say “Wish you good fortune,” a common Chinese New Year greeting, Farhad said.

During the 2018 Chinese New Year celebration period, Dunn Middle School of Los Olivos will have Mandarin-speaking student volunteers at the Solvang Visitors Center on Copenhagen Drive.

Chinese students at Dunn trained with Visitors Center Manager Dean Klitgaard in October 2017 as part of a pilot program to learn about Solvang’s heritage as well as current attractions and activities.

Farhad said the SCVB also will translate restaurant menus into Chinese for free, noting Chinese prefer hot breakfast, lunch and dinner items.

Restaurants and food purveyors can submit up to five menu items on their restaurant letterhead to receive the complimentary translation to Chinese.

The menus, which can include photos of food items, then can be displayed in a window or in permanent display cases permitted by the city all year long, Farhad said.

Menu descriptions can be emailed to daniel.lahr@solvangusa.com, or owners can call Daniel Lahr, Sales & Special Programs manager, at 688-6144 for assistance.

Farhad said the SCVB’s 2018 welcome promotions are part of the “China Ready” initiatives that include educating local business owners about Chinese culture and customs as well as working with Chinese tour operators, travel agents and media.

Tracy Beard, executive director of the Solvang Chamber of Commerce, said of the 1.5 million tourists who visit the city each year, about 230,000 come from China.

For more information about the “China Ready” programs, visit www.solvangusa.com/group-tours/china-ready.

This report was compiled by News Editor Mike Hodgson. He can be reached at mhodgson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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