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Though China is the third largest overseas market for tourist arrivals in the U.S., a typical Chinese visitor spent an average of 6,700 U.S. dollars per trip in 2017, 50 percent more than the average international visitors, according to the U.S. Travel Association. In comparison, a typical tourist from the UK – the biggest overseas market for the U.S. – spends 2,500 U.S. dollars.
The revenue plunge has taken a toll on the tourism industry, affecting airlines, the hospitality sector, retail sales, and even casinos.
For the National Day holiday – a time when many middle-class Chinese families go on long journeys – Chinese flight bookings to the U.S. dropped by 42 percent. That was the figure from last year. For the upcoming golden week this year, the situation could be worse.
Hawaii Airlines suspended its direct flights between Beijing and Honolulu – a route that began operating in 2014 – by the end of 2018, and Air China pulled out of the same service a few days ago, citing falling demands. For the first six months of 2019, the number of Chinese tourists was down by 36 percent year on year, the local tourism authority reported.
A Los Angeles hotel long popular with Chinese travelers saw a 23-percent decline last year and fell by another 10 percent as of June this year, according to a report by the New York Times.
The capital Washington, DC, a must-see destination for many Chinese visitors in the U.S., saw a quarter fewer Chinese in 2018. “I no longer want to go there because of the political tensions there,” said Qi. Her mindset actually mirrors that of many Chinese travelers, who feel increasingly unwelcome in the U.S. due to its more aggressive rhetoric toward China.