China / Society

Cooperation increases visitors to China, US

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-10-29 08:09

Tourism summit exchanges have led to creation of 340,000 jobs

China and the United States have become each other's fourth-largest tourist destinations, with about 4.05 million tourists traveling between the two countries last year, according to China's top tourism official.

Shao Qiwei, director of the China National Tourism Administration, said on Tuesday that 1.97 million Chinese travelers visited the US last year, an annual increase of 14.2 percent.

"I believe the number of Chinese tourists traveling to the US will reach 20 million in 2020," Shao said at the eighth China-US Tourism Leadership Summit held in Xiamen, Fujian province, on Tuesday.

Co-organized by the China National Tourism Administration and Brand USA, a corporation established by the US Congress to promote the US as a premier travel destination, the summit serves as a platform to boost tourism and deepen cooperation.

Established in 2007, the annual event is alternately held in Chinese and US cities, with Shanghai, Qingdao and Nanjing hosting previous sessions.

While Chinese tourists spent a total of $9.8 billion in the US last year, an average of $5,414 each, tourists from the US spent $6.3 billion in China last year, an average of $3,036, Shao said.

"Thanks to the Sino-US tourism exchanges in the past eight years, more than 340,000 jobs have been created in total in the two countries," Shao added.

Shao suggested that cooperation in the tourism sector should be expanded into the second-tier and third-tier cities, given there are rich and unique untapped tourism resources in those cities in both China and the US.

Chris Thompson, chief executive of Brand USA, said one of the corporation's major goals is to promote a few cities beyond the gateway cities known to most Chinese visitors.

According to Michael Merner, managing director of Asia with Brand USA, three US states started marketing in China for the first time.

While a delegation from Utah came to China to promote the State of Utah last week, a Michigan delegation will visit China to publicize its cities and an Illinois delegation will promote other cities outside Chicago next month. Tremendous progress has been made to make it easier for Chinese people to visit the US, Thompson said.

"The visa wait time is now less than five days and direct flights have also improved, with the addition of three new hubs in China, bringing the total to six," Thompson said. Roger Dow, president of the US Travel Association, suggested that both countries should increase air capacity and video conference interviews should be used so Chinese people living in provinces far from US embassies don't have to travel a long distance just for a short visa interview.

Chen Lishuang, chairman of Xiamen C&D International Travel Service Group, said the company saw about a 30-percent increase in visitors to the US last year.

"The increase is largely due to the visa process streamlining efforts by the US. If the efficiency continues to be enhanced, it will certainly encourage more Chinese travelers to visit the US, "Chen said.

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