Chinese visitors enjoy Times Square in New York. China is the third-largest source of overseas travel to the United States, producing 3.2 million visitors in 2017 and accounting for 8.2 percent of all overseas travel to the country. (Photo by Liao Pan/China News Service)
The importance of the Chinese market is being acknowledged by many tourism leaders in the U.S.
Asked during the IPW news conference how he planned to respond if China cut travel to the U.S., Brand USA President and CEO Christopher L. Thompson said he would continue to monitor the situation, but that the Chinese and U.S. travel industries have developed a good relationship through the U.S. China Tourism Leadership Summit.
"When that exact topic was addressed at last year's summit, there was a genuine agreement with the Chinese government that … travel and tourism was something that's very important to both," he said.
Kimberly Barrett, international communications manager at the Philadelphia Convention &Visitors Bureau, said the Chinese visitor market is the city's second-largest.
"In 2017, some 60,000 Chinese visitors came to Philadelphia, and they spent nearly $109 million, which is more than any other market," she said. "This was all without direct flights from China."
As the number of Chinese visitors grows, the agency is starting to focus increasingly on the Chinese market, and to reach more potential visitors, it launched a WeChat account in December.
Laura Myers, media manager for The Florida Keys and Key West, said the trade war will probably cause a temporary setback to Chinese travel to the U.S..
"We don't feel as if it's going to have a long-term impact," she said. "We feel that the Chinese market has great potential, especially with millennial travelers who are seeking more adventures, and the Keys are the perfect adventurous market for millennials."
She said Chinese are the fifth-largest international group visiting the Keys. The travel agency has just launched its WeChat account to encourage Chinese visitors to "get off the beaten track from major cities", she said.
Salzman-Gubbay, from ACE89, said, "While geopolitical matters could impact travel trends in the near term, people's desire to travel and to learn will not diminish."