Number of Chinese Visitors to the US Falls

Trump’s trade war is having some unintended consequences—and one of those is affecting the travel industry.

The number of Chinese travelers visiting the U.S. has dropped off sharply.

In fact, Chinese visitors were increasing by double-digits every year until 2018. Spending by Chinese residents in the U.S. produced $35.3 billion in export income for the U.S. economy in 2017 according to data from the U.S. Travel Association, and Chinese visitors spend more than visitors from other international countries.

Now, however, things are different and reports suggest Chinese travelers are being deterred from visiting the U.S. due to Trump’s trade war.

U.S. Travel Association executive vice president for public affairs and policy, Tori Barnes issued a statement regarding the matter.

“The difficulty with trade skirmishes is that the unintended consequences are hard to predict, and we were concerned from the start that tensions with China might affect business and other travel to the U.S.,” said Barnes.

“The irony is that travel exports have been the greatest success story of our trade relationship with China, generating a $30 billion surplus and accounting for 19 percent of all our exports to that country in 2017,” added Barnes. “The Chinese visit the U.S. in strong numbers, and they spend an average of $6,700 per trip—about 50 percent more than the average international visitor.”

China and the U.S. have not just gone back and forth on tariffs. The two countries have also traded travel warnings. Last July, China issued a U.S. travel advisory warning Chinese nationals that “cases of shootings, robberies, and theft are frequent, travelers in the U.S. should be alert to their surroundings and suspicious individuals, and avoid going out alone at night.”

The U.S. followed suit with its own warning six months later. In January, the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for China, telling Americans that they should exercise increased caution when visiting the country due to the arbitrary enforcement of local laws.

“Chinese authorities have asserted broad authority to prohibit U.S. citizens from leaving China by using exit bans, sometimes keeping U.S. citizens in China for years.”

Hopefully, the relationship between the countries can be repaired as the increased visitation is a big advantage to the U.S. economy.

“While our commercial and security relationships with China are certainly complicated,” said Barnes, “it is an undeniable fact that Chinese travel to the U.S. has been a huge win for the U.S. economy and jobs, and there are warning signs that advantage is beginning to erode.”

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