Lots of Chinese visitors — 2.9 million — traveled to the U.S. in 2018, but that represents a 5.7 percent dip from 2017 — and the first drop since Chinese tourism to the U.S. started expanding rapidly in 2003, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office. There are several explanations for the falloff in Chinese travelers, analysts say, including economic unpredictability prompting closer-to-home vacations and Chinese tourists getting a taste for more exotic-sounding destinations, The Associated Press reports. But President Trump’s trade war is among the causes.
Trump started levying tariffs on Chinese goods in early 2018, prompting retaliatory measures from Beijing. Last summer, China warned its citizens to be careful when traveling to the U.S., citing shootings, robberies, and high medical costs; the U.S. responded with its own travel warning for China. Chinese visitors, not including students, spent $18.8 billion in the U.S. in 2017, representing 12 percent of overall tourism spending, AP reports. U.S. cities and tourist destinations are working to reverse the new downturn in Chinese visitors.
Wang Haixia, who lives in Beijing, told AP that she and her family cut their trip to the U.S. short this month so as not to help boost the U.S. economy. “I cannot cancel this trip because I promised my sister I would go to her commencement,” she said. “My relatives will contribute more than 100,000 yuan to America just staying for 10 days, and that’s enough.”
Still, most travel industry researchers expect this drop-off in Chinese travelers to be temporary — not so much because of an expectation that U.S.-Chinese tensions will ease anytime soon but rather because the Chinese middle class is expected to keep growing apace.
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