Travelers from China are seeking alternative destinations amid the trade war with the United States, as travel industry insiders keep a close eye on the decline in the number of those visitors. China is the third-largest source of overseas travel to the US, producing 3.2 million visitors in 2017 and accounting for 8.2 percent of all overseas travel to the country, according to the US Travel Association. Liu Yinmeng specially for the China Daily.
Travel is the top US industry export to China, generating a $29.8 billion trade surplus with the country in 2017 and accounting for 19 percent of all exports. In addition, Chinese tourists spend an average of $6,700 per trip, about 50 percent more than the average for international visitors.
Chinese travel to the US fell by 5.7 percent last year to 2.9 million visitors, the first fall in 15 years, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office.
“The US government’s restrictive policies for travelers and students are not supported by many companies and most people in the US,” said Gideon Salzman-Gubbay, chief operating officer of ACE89, a company that helps businesses engage with Chinese audiences.
“Countries succeed by having open systems, not closed borders,” he said. “The US has long thrived through openness and diversity. China, of course, has conducted business and cultural exchanges with openness for thousands of years, as exemplified by the Silk Road.
“Travel, communication and exchanges can be forces for good in the world. People have sought travel and learning experiences since time immemorial. Countries that stay static, and people with closed minds, cannot succeed.”
During the 2019 IPW, a travel industry trade show staged from June 1 to 5 in Anaheim, California, US Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow acknowledged a decline in the US’ share of global long-haul travel－even as the sector expanded.
“When we met last year, I told you that the US was losing international travel market share. Unfortunately, that is still the case,” he said.
Dow cited US Department of Commerce figures showing that international travel to the country grew by just 3.5 percent last year.
According to the association, the US’ share of the global travel market dropped from 13.7 percent in 2015 to 11.7 percent last year.
Research company Tourism Economics reported that the US overseas market grew by only 2 percent last year. “This tepid performance is somewhat more concerning as visits to the US slowed in the second half of 2018, with notable weakness for Germany and key Asian markets－particularly China, South Korea and Japan,” the company said.