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China-US tourism to fly high with stronger cooperation

By Yang Feiyue | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-05-30 07:48

A US tour operator takes photos with Chinese performers wearing ancient folk costumes at the Twelve Hours of Chang'an theme block that vividly reproduces urban life in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), this month. YANG FEIYUE/CHINA DAILY

Officials and players look to in-depth discussions and exchanges to boost sector's recovery, Yang Feiyue reports in Xi'an.

At a recent forum focusing on the current and future bilateral tourism development between China and the United States, Fred Dixon, president and CEO of New York City Tourism and Conventions, highlighted significant shifts over the past year. Dixon noted a growing trend among Chinese travelers for more immersive experiences, opting for fewer destinations and longer stays.

Dixon says he has also noticed a growth in experience among Chinese travelers, who are "younger" and "more educated".

"We see nothing but tremendous opportunities and we look forward to having China back as it was before the pandemic," Dixon says.

He says tour operators in the US have seen the power of China's golden weeks and holiday periods and are working on moving some of that demand into the slower periods of the year in New York, with the launch of such programs as Broadway Week.

A total of 386,000 Chinese travelers visited New York City last year, about 35 percent of the number in 2019, before the pandemic, when the city welcomed 1.1 million Chinese travelers, Dixon says.

This year, he expects over 800,000 Chinese tourists to visit the Big Apple.

"We are delighted to be more fully engaging with our colleagues here in China," says Dixon.

Officials and players in the tourism sector gathered to discuss its potential between China and the US at the recent 14th China-US Tourism Leadership Summit in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi province.

About 400 industry representatives participated in the event to boost bilateral tourism cooperation and people-to-people exchanges between the world's two biggest economies.

They concurred that the global pandemic has had a significant impact on tourism over the past few years. But over the past year, the global tourism industry has been rapidly recovering and developing thanks to the joint efforts of government agencies and businesses around the world.

"According to our latest forecast, we anticipate that Chinese visits to the US will increase 150 percent from 2023 to 2025. That's 4.7 times faster than the rise in overall overseas visits to the US during this period," said Grant Harris, assistant secretary for industry and analysis of the US Department of Commerce, at the summit co-hosted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China, the Shaanxi government, the US Department of Commerce and the US destination marketing organization Brand USA on May 22.

The US tourism players expressed anticipation for the full return of Chinese visitors to the country.

Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC, Washington DC's official destination marketing organization, says he and his colleagues in many US cities recognize that, among source countries of inbound visitors, travelers from China spend the most and stay the longest.

"We're always intrigued and interested in the dialogues and opportunities to see more Chinese visitors," he says.

The Washington DC side has developed a program where it interfaces with hotels, restaurants and all service providers in the city to understand the cultural differences and expectations of Chinese travelers.

"Something as easy or simple as slippers in your bedroom or tea offerings in your room makes a big difference and helps you feel at home," Ferguson says.

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