United States President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that 2016 is set to be U.S.-China Tourism Year that will celebrate the recent reciprocal extension of visa validity and support increased travel and tourism exports. The two countries will work toward expanding and shaping U.S.-China travel and tourism, and strengthening the bond between the two peoples.
The announcement comes on the heels of the 2015 U.S.-China Tourism Leadership Summit held in Los Angeles, California with nearly 200 U.S. and Chinese tourism leaders from government and industry present.
Travel and tourism is the United States’ largest export services industry, generating a $74 billion trade surplus for the U.S. economy in 2014. International travel to the United States generated $220.6 billion in 2014, supporting 1.1 million jobs.
China is an important contributor to revenues generated by international travel to the United States:
- China was the number two country for visitor spending to and within the United States in 2014 with an estimated $23.8 billion spent on travel and tourism.
- China accounted for 2.9 percent of total international arrivals in the United States in 2014, with an estimated 2.2 million travelers (a 20+ percent increase over 2013).
- National parks are a significant attraction for Chinese visitors to the United States, with 40% saying they had been to a national park when visiting.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, China is the world’s largest tourism market, representing more than 100 million outbound travelers in 2014, and Global Chinese overseas travel expenditures in 2013 were a record $129 billion.
U.S. – China Tourism Year
Throughout the year, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), in collaboration with Brand USA and other partners, will design and execute a year of events and activities that will promote and further open travel between the United States and China, expand market access, and advance initiatives to ensure a quality visitor experience for increasing numbers of travelers to and from both nations.
The U.S. – China Tourism Year provides a platform for the United States and China to continue to improve and upgrade systems to accommodate anticipated travel flows by:
Continuing progress on visa processing: About 2.5 million visas have been processed for Chinese citizens since the announcement of validity extension in November 2014, a 52.6 percent increase over the same period in the previous year and a substantial growth in first-time applicants.
Improving the border entry experience: The United States will continue to make progress toward a “Best in Class” arrivals experience for international visitors and will develop and make more readily available Chinese language materials and website pages.