Summer vacation has already started in China, and the travel season began with a boom. An estimated 2.1 million travelers from mainland China are projected to visit the US sometime 2016. While these numbers are large, this has been a growing trend starting in the 2000s. Beginning in 2007, Chinese visitors coming to the US to travel has increased five-fold; from 400,000 to now 2.1 million per year. But what exactly is behind this surge of visitors, and what exactly are the implications and future ramifications? Today, we will explore the reasons behind this influx of visitors and how it is affecting the US from the city to national level.
Why are so many Chinese coming to visit the US?
One of the main reasons of the recent surge in Chinese tourism to the US can be accounted to the loosening of visa restrictions of Chinese visitors. Beginning in 2013, Chinese travelers receiving tourist entry to the US (B1/B2 labeled visas) have a prolonged 10 year efficacy date, allowing the visitor to stay 6 months out of the year, every year for ten years. This has made the US one of the top countries to accept Chinese tourists in the world. This of course is huge and it is no wonder Chinese travelers are coming over in the millions. Another reason can be the increase in living standards across China, improving the lives of millions; many families now have the spending money to visit places outside of Asia, and are visiting countries across Europe and America.
How are these tourists affecting US travel locations?
Many Chinese see travel to the US as not only a travel adventure, but also a trip that could help one’s social status. Besides travelling to unique destinations around the US, Chinese travelers are often known for their interest in luxury goods purchased while being abroad. The average Chinese traveler spends on average $6,000 per trip to the US, one-third more than all other travelers on average. In 2014, Chinese travelers alone spent $214 million in the domestic US. This influx of consumerism has the potential to rejuvenate US national tourist sites as well as the surrounding towns and cities. One of the top tourist sites for Chinese nationals to come visit is, of course, Yellowstone National Park. Towns and attractions surrounding the area of Yellowstone have steadily been recieving more and more Chinese tourists. The reality, though, is that these towns have limited resources; one of two things will have to happen: small towns will get bigger or the tourism will steadily slow down. With the potentiality of new business coming from new consumers, these towns can only improve. The increase in tourism is great for the local economy many say, but will this trend continue to rise?
What are the main difficulties businesses and travelers face?
Because of the influx of Chinese travelers, one of the biggest difficulties has been on the level of verbal and written communication. Many Chinese are able to speak English, but there are also those whose English language skills are not as strong. Because of this, many hotels, restaurants, and entertainment facilities in Chinese high-tourism rate towns and cities have started using Chinese in menus, instructions, warnings, welcoming signs, etc. Also, many travel agencies specifically catering to Chinese nationals travelling to the US have sprouted and are growing exponentially. This Chinese-focused tourism reality can prove to be very interesting in following years.
Chinese travelers coming to the US have swelled, but it will be interesting to see what will come of this increased travel to the US. Hopefully, this increased travel will create sentiments between the two countries and lead to better cooperation and communication between the two countries on the political, social, and economic spectrums.