Chinese tourists expected to bring in $60 bln to U.S.

Beijing : Outbound tourists to the US from China surged over 20 percent in 2014 to 2.19 million, thanks to extensions of visa validity. The visa policy was hailed by the US tourism industry as a major income boost.

Yellowstone national park, the General Sherman tree, or even Hollywood, America’s great scenary has never this close to the Chinese people, all thanks to an extension of tourist and business visa validity to 10 years for Chinese visitors.Since the start of the new visa policy in November applications jumped 57 percent.

Participants at a leading tourism industry conference Travel Exchange underway in Orlando say China has become the U.S.’s fastest growing source of tourists.

“We’ve seen huge increases in tourists traveling to America, no matter if they are with tour groups or independent tours. Independent tourists have taken up the larger share of the market,” said Yin Yi, general manager of citrip.com, greater northern region.

The tourism can be a billion-dollar business to U.S. tour companies.The boom in outbound tourism has created opportunities for car rental companies.

“Outbound Chinese tourists increases by about 20 percent every year, but car rental will soar by at least a half,” said Li Bin, co-founder of zuzuche.com.

California is the area most favoured by Chinese tourists and attracts the most shoppers. The city has invested about 9 million US dollars in tourism this year. What’s worth noting is that the Annenberg Estate where the US president hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping during his 2013 visit to the states, has become a hot tourism destination for Chinese visitors, CNTV.com reports.

Meanwhile, The Jing Daily writes – Although official Chinese government statistics claim that Chinese tourists spent $164.8 billion overseas last year, this week the Financial Times came out with an even more staggering estimate: $498 billion. When it comes to what these travelers are spending on, shopping is still a main priority, but one key area is gaining central importance: experiences.

According to a new FT survey, shopping still reigns supreme as the leading travel spending segment across all household income groups. Those making over 350,000 RMB a year (about US$56,000) spent an average of 16,440 RMB (US$2,600) on shopping during their trips, more than double the next-highest spending priority—accommodation, which accounted for only 7,165 RMB (US$1,159) of their total spending.

This massive disparity results from the fact that many Chinese tourists often skimp on hotels so they can take advantage of tariff-free shopping and spend more on gifts that gain “face” upon their return home. However, this all seems to be changing. Chinese travelers aren’t just focusing on buying tangible items to take back anymore—they’re also prioritizing spending on experiences to actually enjoy their trips, even if it doesn’t result in items they can show off. According to the FT survey, shopping actually saw a 34.4 percent year-on-year decline in spending for the previously mentioned income group.

Entertainment spending grew by 31.1 percent and accommodation grew by 6.7 percent over the same time period, while “other services” saw 78.6 percent growth. This trend coincides with the growing popularity of independent travel among Chinese tourists, fueled by easier visas and more independent travel options on sites like Ctrip’s ToursForFun, meaning tourists are setting their own itineraries instead of sitting on buses that spend most of their time going from mall to mall.  Source: CNTV.com/ Jing Daily  June 5, 2015

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