This article is a best prospect industry sector for this country. It includes a market overview and trade data. The article is part of the U.S. Government's Country Commercial Guide for China. For the complete Guide to China and over 120 other countries please visit
Last Published: 6/1/2016


China is rapidly becoming one of the most important outbound tourism markets in the world. According to the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), Chinese outbound travelers reached 109 million in 2014, with 10 million more travelers than in 2013.
The United States is becoming an increasingly popular destination for Chinese travelers. In 2014, China ranked as the 6th largest international market (and 4th largest overseas market) for the United States.   While 2015 final data is not yet available, an estimated 2.6 million Chinese (excluding Hong Kong) may visit the U.S. in 2015, constituting a 17 percent increase over 2014.
According to the National Travel and Tourism Office within the U.S. Department of Commerce, China is expected to become the largest source of overseas travelers to the United States by 2020.  Overseas excludes Canada and Mexico. 
The United States welcomed a record 2.19 million visitors from China in 2014, and received more than $24 billion* in spending from Chinese tourists on travel and tourism related goods and services.  Travel exports from Chinese visitors to the U.S. set a record in 2014.  China is the second largest travel export market for the country.  The following charts illustrate how Chinese travelers to the U.S. stacked up against other top markets in 2014 and how their spending compared to their Asian counterparts, respectively. 

Top International Arrivals to U.S. in 2014

2014 Rank

Area/Country of Residence

Annual 2014

% change 2013-2014

--TOTAL ARRIVALS75,011,0807.2%
--OVERSEAS *34,938,2079.0%
3UNITED KINGDOM4,149,1298.2%
6CHINA, PRC2,189,78121.2%

Source:  U.S. Department of Commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office

*  Overseas is all countries excluding Canada and Mexico

Top International Markets for U.S. Travel and Tourism Exports in 2014

2014 Rank

Area/Country of Residence

Annual 2014, in Millions of USD

% change 2013-2014

--TOTAL Tourism-Related Exports$220,7572.9%
--OVERSEAS *34,938,2074.0%
2China (PRC)$24,01913.6%
5United Kingdom$13,4962.3%
8South Korea$7,79910.8%

Source:  U.S. Department of Commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office
*  Overseas is all countries excluding Canada and Mexico

Annual 2014 U.S. Travel and Tourism Balance of Trade

Travel & Passenger Air Transport Receipts (Exports)1     

[Millions, USD]


Reciepts (Exports)

Travel (all purposes)2,3

Passenger Air Transport2

Total Travel and Tourism

% Change,   2013-2014

Total (All Countries) $177,241 $43,516 $220,7573%
     Asia and Pacific $66,27 $11,135 $77,4127%
          China $21,499 $2,520 $24,01914%
          Japan $12,116 $5,560 $17,6760%
          India $8,131 $1,711 $9,84210%
          Korea, Republic of $7,633 $166 $7,79911%
          Australia $5,367 $813 $6,180-9%
          Taiwan $2,098 $9 $2,1070%
          Philippines $1,018 $81 $1,0996%
          New Zealend $1,036 -  $1,0366%
          Singapore $922 $8 $930-5%
          Hong Kong $781 $122 $9030%
          Indonesia $876-   $8769%
          Thailand $729 $9 $7386%
          Malaysia $697 -   $6974%

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, October 2015. 

  1. Total Travel and Tourism Exports represents the sum of 'Travel' + 'Passenger Air Transport' exports (what international visitors spent while here + what they spent to get here).
  2. Travel: These accounts cover purchases of goods and services by U.S. persons traveling abroad and by foreign travelers in the United States for business or personal reasons. These goods and services include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the country of travel, and other items incidental to a foreign visit.
  3. All travel purposes include 1) business travel, including expenditures by border, seasonal, and other short-term workers and 2) personal travel, including health-related and education-related travel, along with spending on day-trips (less than one night).
  4. Fares received for the transport of nonresidents by U.S. air carriers between the United States and foreign countries and between two foreign points (exports).

Note:  International standards now use a broader definition of travel than previously used, which includes education-related and health-related travel, as well as expenditures on goods and services by border, seasonal, and other short-term workers in the United States. For more information, please visit:  
User-added image
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office

User-added image
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office
American tour operators, destination marketing organizations, hotels and airlines will need to cooperate with each other, as well as with government entities, in order to capture more of this highly profitable market.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects     

As China rebalances its economy to promote consumerism as a greater driver of economic activity, some best sub-sector prospects for U.S. suppliers include luxury travel to the United States, such as wineries and fine dining, golf courses and leisure activities, MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions), as well as foreign individual travel. While group tours to American destinations famous in China are still preeminent, more Chinese are becoming interested in visiting places of natural beauty, cultural or of historical significance, and venturing off the beaten path.

2016 U.S. – China Tourism Year

On Monday, February 29, 2016, the United States and China launched the 2016 U.S.-China Tourism Year in Beijing at an opening ceremony hosted by Brand USA,
The U.S. China Tourism Year was a strategic deliverable during the Obama-Xi Summit meeting in Washington D.C. in September 2015. The initiative aims to increase travel and tourism between the two countries by enhancing the traveler’s experience, increasing the traveler’s cultural understanding, and expanding the traveler’s appreciation of natural landscapes in each other’s countries.
From the U.S. perspective, the Tourism Year offers the chance to build on the current double-digit growth in arrivals from China, expanding the United States' share of the nearly 100 million Chinese visitors traveling each year. Key to achieving this goal is the 2014 announcement by the United States and China of a reciprocal extension of visa validity for tourist and business travel from one to 10 years, and student travel from one to five years.


Several developments bode well for U.S. travel and tourism suppliers in the China market. With the expected year to year continued increase in Chinese travelers to the U.S., the Commercial Service’s China Travel and Tourism Team is in the process of coordinating a U.S. Embassy China Travel and Tourism Country Strategic Plan. One of the strategic goals is to encourage Chinese travelers to visit lesser known U.S. destinations in order to spread the benefits of the expected increase in Chinese tourism more evenly throughout the U.S. As part of this strategy, the Commercial Service, working closely with Commercial Service Export Assistance Centers (USEACs) and external stakeholders such as BrandUSA and VisitUSA, is creating promotions highlighting these lesser known destinations and all six USFCS offices in Mainland China are programming numerous events and promotions of which U.S. travel and tourism suppliers can take advantage.   
In another new development, BrandUSA now has four representative offices in China located in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu.  BrandUSA has organized and supported U.S. pavilions at major travel trade shows around China, runs collaborative and broad-based marketing campaigns, and other tourism events and programs.  A third development is the new establishment of a VisitUSA Committee in China, consisting entirely of private-sector entities and companies promoting Chinese travel to the United States. The VisitUSA Committee has also organized numerous roadshows in 2014 and 2015, educational programming and other promotional events.  Overall, U.S. destinations and travel and tourism suppliers should consider working with Commercial Service for their initial entry into the market and/or participating in VisitUSA and BrandUSA organized promotional roadshows and seminars.   
In regard to long-term entry into the China market, travel and tourism organizations have two ways to enter the market.  The first is to establish a direct office in China.  To do this the travel and tourism supplier should obtain a registration license from the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA).  The second method is to contract with a marketing/PR company to represent and/or promote your organization or destination. The second method is the one used by most U.S. destinations currently represented in the market.
Finally, the new ten year multiple entry visa available to Chinese travelers has made a huge impact and will drive increasing demand for Chinese travel to the U.S., especially the growing Frequent Individual Travelers market.
It is important to note that as the Chinese government continues to develop its policy interests toward this sector, new policies, guidelines, and regulations may be imposed.  For example, this year saw draft e-tourism guidelines proposed by National People’s Congress in May 2015 which seemed to be aimed at Chinese provinces, and municipalities setting out a policy touching on a list of nine task areas and meant to integrate the tourism sector, internet, and information security strategy to enhance and upgrade the tourism sector. The impact of this policy on U.S. travel and tourism is not clear. 

Trade Shows

Beijing: Beijing International Travel Expo (June 26-28, 2015)
Beijing: China Incentive Business Travel and Meeting Exhibition (MICE) (August 5-6, 2015)

Shanghai: China International Travel Mart (CITM) (November 13-15, 2015)

Guangzhou: Guangzhou International Travel Fair (February 25-27, 2015)

Web Resources          

Brand USA:
Discover America:
Visit USA Committee:
U.S. Travel Association (USTA):
National Tour Association (NTA):
China National Tourism Administration (Chinese regulatory agency, the U.S. does not have an equivalent bureau):
Commercial Service China Tourism Team:
National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO):
2014 China Market Profile for Travel and Tourism:
NTTO 2015-2020 Forecast:
NTTO Inbound Data Page:
2015 Country Commercial Guide for China:


U.S. Embassy in Beijing

Jing Wei, Commercial Specialist
Tel: (86 10) 8531 4296

U.S. Consulate in Shanghai

Stellar Chu, Senior Commercial Specialist
Tel: (86 21) 6279 8726

U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou

Barry Zhang, Senior Commercial Specialist
Tel: (86 20) 3814 5442 

U.S. Consulate in Shenyang

Andrea Shen, Commercial Specialist
Tel: (86 24) 2322 1198 ext. 8145

U.S. Consulate in Chengdu

Flora Fan, Commercial Specialist
Tel: (86 28) 8598 6663

U.S. Consulate in Wuhan

Wang Jing, Commercial Specialist
Tel: (86 27) 8555 7791 ext. 808


Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting

China Travel and Tourism Trade Development and Promotion