U.S. tourism businesses just finished their first post-pandemic sales missions to China — their first trips in four years.
Visit California and NYC Tourism + Conventions brought delegations of hotels, attractions and local businesses. Delegate members had meetings with China’s tour operators, travel agencies and members of its local travel industry.
Boosting travelers from China is a priority for U.S. tourism boards.
In 2019, China sent 2.8 million travelers to the U.S., making it the fifth largest source market, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office. In 2023, it is expected to reach just 849,000.
From his conversations with tour operators and travel agencies, demand seems “strong” and the outlook is positive, said Jean-Yves Ghazi, president of the Empire State Building Observatory.
Caroline Beteta, Visit California CEO, had a similar takeaway: “It’s really incredible. There’s so much pent-up demand,” she said. Beeta herself didn’t go to China, but members of her staff led the delegation and briefed her. Visit California plans to invest over $7 million on marketing in China over the coming months.
Chinese tourists face steep wait times to get a visitor visa interview. “The first step for any new Chinese traveler that is not in possession of a 10-year visa is to get a visa before they can acquire an airline ticket. That’s the first challenge for them,” said Ghazi.
There’s a long queue for a tourist visa. “Unfortunately, there’s still 160,000 visa applications that are waiting to be processed,” said Beteta.
Due to air service improving slowly, 2024 will be a better year for outbound Chinese travel, said Beteta and Ghazi. ‘It’s going to be gradual, The floodgates are not fully open yet,” said Ghazi.
Read original article