After seven years of double-digit growth—12 years if we exclude the 2009 recession—visitations from China to the U.S. grew by a mere 4 percent in 2017,1 and the outlook for the near-term assumes a further slowdown in growth. Despite the increase in Chinese residents who hold passports, political factors such as ongoing trade tensions between the two countries and official statements from Chinese government officials dissuading travel to the U.S. likely play a role in the significant slowdown.
Nevertheless, China remains the third-largest source of overseas travel to the United States, attracting 3.2 million visitors in 2017, and accounting for 8.2 percent of overseas travel to the U.S. Travel also helped lower our trade deficit with China. Valued at nearly a fifth (19%) of total U.S. exports of goods and services to China, travel is the top U.S. industry export to China. Travel generated a $29.8 billion trade surplus with China in 2017, more than any other industry.