U.S. sees sharp drop in Chinese visitors . . .
The U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office recorded a 5.7 per cent drop in Chinese tourists in 2018, marking the first time since 2003 that the number of Chinese tourists to the U.S. declined over the previous year. In 2017, China was the fifth largest source of U.S.-bound tourists, with 3.2 million Chinese visiting the States that year. Many analysts have linked the drop to the ongoing trade dispute between the two global powers.
Tourism as a policy instrument . . .
Beijing makes few qualms about using the country’s mammoth tourism market as a tool for pushing its foreign policy agenda, particularly during times of tense bilateral relations. In 2017, China banned tour groups to South Korea to protest that country’s installation of a U.S. missile defence system. South Korea saw a 48 per cent drop in Chinese tourists that year.
Tough times ahead . . .
The arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in late 2018 brought an awkward end to the official ‘2018 Canada-China Year of Tourism.’ Despite the deterioration of bilateral relations, Statistics Canada’s latest numbers show a modest drop: 131,034 Chinese tourists visited Canada in the first three months of 2019, a 5,700-drop over the first three months of 2018. But Canada’s hospitality industry may be in for tough times ahead. Holmes Luo, sales co-ordinator at a Vancouver-based travel company, lamented, “For this summer, we haven’t heard a lot from Chinese operators. We are trying to contact them, but we just haven’t heard back from them.”
- South China Morning Post: US destinations scramble to win back Chinese tourists
- Financial Times: China begins to lift ban on group tours to South Korea
- Vancouver Sun: Local tourism industry navigates political spat with China