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New Chinese yuan exchange rates, plans for gulf tourism campaigns

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

China exchanges its rates

China's decision to loosen its currency, the yuan, from the U.S. dollar and instead set exchange rates against a basket of currencies could hurt the American traveler.

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"As the yuan appreciates against the dollar, it will become more expensive for Americans to travel to China," said Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com. "However, the appreciation is expected to be very gradual."

Many experts say that China's move was largely political. The United States, Europe and other countries have long complained that China has purposely kept its exports cheap to maintain a healthy economy.

"My guess is that the exchange rate will not really change over the next few months," said Michael Stumm, chief executive of Oanda, which provides currency information to travelers.

Marketing the Gulf Coast

Executives from the U.S. Travel Association and tourism officials from states feeling the impact of the oil spill said at a Capitol Hill breakfast on Tuesday that an aggressive marketing campaign will be needed in the years to come to persuade travelers to visit the Gulf Coast beaches.

"It's perception versus reality," said Chris Thompson, president and chief executive of Visit Florida. "The most important factor in keeping tourists coming to Florida will be conveying accurate and up-to-the-minute information."

SouthCoast USA, a consortium of destinations along Interstate 10 and the Gulf of Mexico, announced that it had requested $55 million from BP to launch a tourism marketing campaign. The city of New Orleans has also asked BP for $75 million for marketing.

The tourism industry directly or indirectly employs 10 million American workers, U.S. Travel said. Cancellations have been up significantly in the region, the officials said.

Reporting: Andrea Sachs, Nancy Trejos. Help feed CoGo. Send travel news to: cogo@washpost.com. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071

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