After more than a decade of rapid growth, Chinese travel falls to the US as the Trump administration leaves a trade war with China. And it has American cities, shopping malls and other tourist sites that distort the trend.
Travel from China to the United States dropped 5.7% in 2018 to 2.9 million visitors, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office, which collects data from the United States Customs Forms. It was the first time since 2003 that Chinese travel to the United States began from the previous year.
Friction between the United States and China is a cause of the slowdown. The Trump administration first introduced tariffs on Chinese solar panels and washing machines in January 201
Last summer, China issued a travel warning for the United States and told citizens to take care of shootings, robberies and high medical costs. The United States shot back with its own warning of travel to China.
Wang Haixia, working at an international trading company in Beijing, traveled to the US in May for her sister's exam. She and her family planned to spend 10 days in Illinois and New York.
Wang says she may have stayed longer but does not want to contribute to the US economy during the trade war.
"I can't cancel this trip because I promised my sister I would go to her beginning," she said. "My family members will contribute more than 100,000 yuan to America, just staying for 10 days and that's enough."
There are other reasons for the downturn. Economic uncertainty in China has travelers on the lower end of the market that are on holiday closer to home, says Wolfgang Georg Arlt, director of the Chinese outbound tourism research institute, who found that 56% of travelers leaving China in the last three In the months of 2018, went to Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan compared to 50% in 2017. Those traveling longer seek more exotic destinations such as Croatia, Morocco and Nepal.
Higher Chinese Incomes
Chinese trips to the United States were already moderated from its breakneck pace earlier this decade. In 2000, 249,000 Chinese visited the United States, which tripled to 802,000 in 2010 and then tripled again in 2015, partly due to higher incomes, better air transport links and lighter visa restrictions, according to McKinsey. 19659003] The United States received more than 3 million Chinese visitors in 2016 and 2017. But year-on-year growth only rose 4% in 2017, the slower pace for more than a decade.
Most industrial employees agree that any downturn is temporary as China's middle class will only continue to expand. US government forecasts Chinese tourism will grow 2% this year to 3.3 million visitors and will reach 4.1 million visitors by 2023.
"While the Chinese economy is cooling, it will remain a very good source of growth for the travel industry," said David Huether, senior vice president of research for the United States Travel Association.
In general, the international travel to the United States has been declining. Total data for 2018 has not yet been released, but international travel fell 2% in 2016 and was flat in 2017.
However, because China commands some of the highest tourist traffic to the United States, any decline will be felt by destinations that have come to to rely on Chinese spending power. In 2017, the country had the fifth highest number of US-bound tourists behind Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Japan. Ten years earlier, China was not even on the top 10 list that fell behind countries like Germany, France, South Korea and Australia, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office.
China didn't hit the top 10 list for 2011 and has been climbing ever since. The cost of Chinese visitors – who do not include students – ballooned more than 600% between 2008 and 2016, to nearly $ 18.9 billion. In 2017, it fell by 1% to DKK 18.8 billion. Dollars or about 12% of total tourism expenses.
To hold on to these dollars, experts say the tourism industry needs to do more to keep up with Chinese travelers and their changing needs. 19659005] Social media
Larry Yu, Professor of Hospitality Management at George Washington University, notes that Chinese tourists – especially younger ones – are planning more and more trips using social media apps like WeChat and are less likely to book through major tour groups . They also quickly adopted smartphone-based payment systems.
Destinations should invest in these technologies now if they want to continue to attract Chinese tourists, says David Becker, former managing director of Attract China, a New York tour operator.  "Many companies looked at the Chinese market as easy money, but we need to be relevant to the Chinese," Becker said. Attract China, for example, has Helped luxury stores in Manhattan integrate Jeenie, a live translation app, and add Alipay and WeChat Pay for mobile payments.
Others have also stepped up their efforts. The Beverly Center Mall in Los Angeles is used to accommodate busloads of Chinese tourists. Now it focuses on small groups of less than 10 VIP shoppers, says Susan Vance, the mall's marketing and sponsorship director. The template has also pushed the stores to offer China UnionPay, a digital payment service. More than 100 stores now, says Vance, from three in 2014.
Tourist officials also catch WeChat. At the end of 2017, Washington D.C. the first American city to launch an interactive guide to the app. Chinese travelers can use it to get directions to attractions, access to Mandarin tours and find restaurants and shopping. The city's marketing office has an employee dedicated to WeChat.
Washington also recently launched a welcome Chinese program that teaches hotels, restaurants, and other Chinese customs and invites them to offer things like Chinese-language menus or in-room slippers. Forty-four hotels and a handful of restaurants have signed up.
Elliott Ferguson, Managing Director of Destination DC, the city's marketing office, said that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Washington was doubled in the last five years before falling slightly in 2017. But Ferguson, who traveled to China last month to meet with tourism officials, said there is still great interest in traveling to the United States
"We are strengthening our efforts because we see so many opportunities for growth, " he said. .