It’s the first time it’s happened in more than a decade. Last year the number of Chinese tourists coming to the U.S. dropped.
The decline was nearly 6 percent to about 3 million visitors. And it came amid a trade war between Washington and Beijing.
CGTN’s Giles Gibson reports.
Tourists come from all over the world to snap a photo of one Washington’s most famous residents.
China is a key market for the U.S. capital, with its tourism board even starting a special program to help hotels, restaurants and other businesses attract Chinese visitors.
The marketing firm Destination DC said the 2018 figures are just a minor blip.
“When you look at significant growth, clearly there’s going to be a point in that growth where you’re going to see somewhat of a flattening or correction of those numbers as a whole. I think that there continues to be a lot of interest, therefore there will continue to be a lot of growth,” said Elliott Ferguson the CEO of Destination DC.
But recent tensions between the U.S. and China are spilling over into the tourism sector.
Last year, Chinese authorities issued a travel warning to their citizens, cautioning about crime and the high cost of healthcare in the United States.
The State Department in Washington then placed China on a Level 2 warning, telling U.S. travelers to “exercise increased caution” when visiting China.
Instead of booking a package with a tour operator, they’re using smartphones to research and book their holidays.
“More and more younger people, millennial, clearly like to travel on their own and leverage technology in searching and finding destinations based on social media, consumer-generated feedback, and then make their own decision on where to go,” said Larry Yu Professor of Hospitality Management at George Washington University.
The U.S. Travel Association predicted Chinese tourists would outnumber every other nationality except the UK by 2020.
But the latest figures show China’s rapid climb up the rankings is slowing down, at least for now.