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Anti-Asian hate is big obstacle for US tourism as China outbound travel restarts

03/20/2021| 6:05:14 PM|

While there’s little tourism boards can do to prevent hate crimes, there are a few approaches they can take to woo Chinese travelers.

Mainland Chinese travelers are now putting “friendliness” as the top factor influencing their willingness to travel overseas, above even the absence of Covid-19 cases in a destination and travel protocols and encumbrances, a recent survey by Chinese data and marketing agency Dragon Trail has shown.

They also deem the United States as by far the most unsafe destination, followed by Canada, Australia and the UK. As it happens, these are countries whose relations with China have soured, either over trade, Huawei, Hong Kong or other political issues.

The findings come as so-called “anti-Asian hate” is rising in the U.S. Tuesday’s Atlanta shooting rampage that killed eight people, six of whom were Asians, including four Koreans, serves as another red flag, albeit at press time police are still investigating the motive.

There’s now a thin line between unwelcoming and unsafe. It used to be that unfriendly does not mean unsafe. But now unfriendliness has joined a motley mix of other safety concerns, such as political/civil unrest, robbery and terrorism, to seal the perception that the US is a no-go when China outbound travel rebounds. China had been a major source market for the US before the pandemic.

More than 80 percent of respondents in the survey, conducted from February 22 to March 3 by Dragon Trail International, rated the US as unsafe. Next-in-line, Canada,  ranked unsafe by 54 percent, Australia 48 percent and the UK, 47 percent of respondents.

Dragon Trail’s survey shows Asia is the most preferred region for Chinese travelers, followed by Europe and, surprisingly, the US. This reflects how the U.S. is still aspirational for Chinese travelers despite current fears about unfriendliness and safety issues.

While there’s no much tourism boards can do to prevent hate crimes, there are a few approaches they can take to woo Chinese travelers, said Dragon Tail’s Parulis-Cook. 

She believes the most effective way to prove that your destination is friendly to the Chinese is to get them to say so.

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TAGS: outbound tourism | US | friendliness | tourism boards
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