By 2018, Chinese travelers are going to be the biggest tourism group in the US, with the number expected to hit 4.7 million annually, according to Christopher Thompson, president & CEO of Brand USA, who was speaking at the Welcome China, a Tourism Exchange Activity event at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Thompson said Chinese visitors remained the fastest growing group among all other countries. “Last year, the US welcomed 1.47 million Chinese visitors, 35 percent higher than 2011,” he said on Tuesday.
Shao Qiwei said the Tourism Exchange Activity was a major follow up on the pledges made by Chinese Presidents Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Barack Obama to strengthen people-to-people exchanges that can serve as a catalyst for establishing a new model of major country relations between China and the US.
“Thompson told me that each Chinese tourist will spend around $7,000 on a trip to the US,” Shao said, adding that the figure was far higher than he expected.
Shao mentioned that China and the US are important tourism source markets and destinations for each other and he appreciated the steps the US had made to streamline the visiting process for Chinese tourists.
Recently, some Chinese tourists have been affected by the US government’s partial shutdown. Zhang Yi, 53, a Chinese traveler to the US, complained about the lack of spots to visit.
Fertitta, chief executive officer of NYC & Company, said New York City was expecting to welcome more Chinese visitors.
“In 2008, when the US was granted approved destination status, we were given a tremendous opportunity. New York City was one of the first US cities to establish a representative office in China and take advantage of this opportunity. It was a chance to become among the first to welcome millions of new visitors to our city and forge mutual understanding and international relationships,” he said.
Fertita also mentioned that New York City welcomed a record 541,000 visitors from China last year, up nearly 27 percent from 2011, the highest growth of any country, and they were expecting to welcome even more.
The increasing number of Chinese tourists is not only in New York City, he said, but across the whole country.