As U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo makes an official visit to China, new U.S. Travel Association analysis shows that a complete rebound in Chinese visitation (to 2019 levels)—which is currently substantially trailing other nations—would boost the U.S. economy with an additional 2 million visitors a year and more than $11 billion in export spending.
“Welcoming Chinese visitors back to the United States is key to fully restoring international inbound travel and boosting this vital segment of the economy,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman. “As domestic business travel hovers at 80% of what it once was and leisure travel normalizes, the importance of international visitors has never been greater. We commend Secretary Raimondo’s engagement and focus on restoring inbound travel from China.”
In 2019, China was the third largest source of overseas travelers to the U.S. (behind only the U.K. and Japan), sending nearly 3 million visitors who spent $15 billion on their visits. Chinese visitors spent more than any other market, with each visitor spending more than $5,000 per trip.
Outbound travel from China to the U.S. this year has only recovered 30% of 2019 levels, while the overall overseas recovery stands at 73%.
Significantly increasing these figures will make it easier to meet the Biden administration’s goal of attracting 90 million visitors and $279 billion in spending annually by 2027.
“Secretary Raimondo is a vocal proponent of the essential role travel plays in powering the U.S. economy,” said Freeman. “Increasing visitation is critical to meeting the national goal, but the administration must do more to eliminate barriers to growing travel, including lowering visitor visa wait times.”
U.S. Travel continues to call on the Biden administration to focus its efforts on two key areas to boost travel from the economically critical Chinese market:
Lowering visa wait times: Wait times to obtain a visitor visa to travel from China to the U.S. average 164 days; the U.S. State Department must lower wait times to help meet the Biden administration’s 2027 visitation and spending goals.
Increasing air service capacity: U.S. and Chinese officials reached an agreement to increase weekly flights from the U.S. to 24 by October 29, which is less than 10% (340 weekly flights) of pre-pandemic capacity.
“As flight capacity increases, the State Department must ensure its Chinese consulates are appropriately staffed to meet the growing demand for visitor visas,” cautioned Freeman.
U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing the $1.2 trillion travel industry, an essential contributor to our nation's economy and success. U.S. Travel produces programs and insights and advocates for policies to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit ustravel.org for information and recovery-related data.
Senior Vice President, Communications