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Chinese overseas trips expected to hit 100m in 2014

By HU HAIDAN in New York City and Zhao Lei in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2013-10-11 01:38

Chinese tourists will make more than 90 million trips by the end of this year, the country's top tourism official said in Chicago on Wednesday, estimating an unprecedented 100 million trips will be undertaken by Chinese tourists next year.

China has become the third-biggest recipient of tourists in the world and the biggest contributor to global tourism revenue, Shao Qiwei, head of China's National Tourism Administration, told a conference promoting cooperation between tourism authorities in China and the United States.

Chinese tourists spent more than $102 billion last year on overseas trips, Shao said, adding that each Chinese traveler spent an average of $5,948 in the US.

He also quoted research findings from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis that found Chinese tourists had helped the US generate at least 10,000 jobs in 2012.

Shao is leading a Chinese delegation of tourism officials and industry heads in the US and has taken part in a succession of events that aim to promote cooperation in the tourism sector.

"We are witnessing the best era of our cooperation," he said at the conference. "A solid foundation has been laid for us to make the tourism industry contribute more to the advancement of our two nations' relations."

Shao's remarks were echoed by Chris Thomson, president and CEO of Brand USA, the official US tourism and marketing organization, who predicted China will be the top tourist source for the US in 2018 with the number of visiting Chinese hitting 4.7 million annually.

He said the US received 1.47 million Chinese visitors in 2012, and the number is increasing by 35 percent each year, a figure that puts it far ahead of any other country.

Chinese travelers spent $8.8 billion last year in the US, making America the top spending destination for Chinese tourists, he said.

"Last year, we welcomed 172,000 Chinese visitors. Our Chinese-version guidebook is now so popular that it has passed our guidebooks in other languages, including English, in terms of sales," Thomas Campbell, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, said.

George Fertitta, CEO of NYC & Co, New York City's official marketing, tourism and partnership organization, said the city is looking forward to embracing more Chinese visitors.

"In 2008, when the US was granted approved destination status by China, we were given a tremendous opportunity. New York City was one of the first US cities to establish a representative office in China and take advantage of this opportunity," he said.

Fertitta also said that New York City received a record 541,000 visitors from China last year, up nearly 27 percent from 2011, the highest growth in the number of tourists of any other country.

Though the future is bright and promising, Shao urged authorities in the US to promptly address problems bothering tourists.

Chinese tourists have been affected by the US government's partial shutdown. Zhang Yi, 53, a Chinese traveler to the US, complained about the lack of sites to visit. "My family was so excited about the trip," said Zhang. "But national museums, zoos and other famous spots were all closed."

Contact the writers at haidanhu12@chinadailyusa.com and zhaolei@chinadaily.com.cn

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