China has always been a critically important market for the US tourism industry, a US business leader has said, expecting the partnership between the two countries' tourism sectors to strengthen.
China is the largest outbound tourism market in the world, buoyed by a growing portion of the nation's population that has both the ability and the propensity to travel, Chris Thompson, president and CEO of Brand USA, an organization dedicated to marketing the United States as a premier travel destination, told Xinhua in an interview on the sidelines of the organization's Marketing Committee Meeting held Tuesday in Minneapolis, the US state of Minnesota.
"For all of us that are marketing around the world to grow our international market share, China is a critically important one," he said.
Thompson, who has over 400 years of experience in the travel and tourism industry, noted that robust Chinese visitations have generated positive implications on US economy for years.
Once the tourists hit the ground, there is direct and indirect spending from their exploration and venture in the US destinations and in terms of the support from the Chinese tourists for the local economy, "it's a big number," said the US tourism expert. He said the spending by the Chinese tourists in the United States last year reached some $35 billion.
According to a report released by the United States Travel Association (USTA) in March, the travel and tourism sector supports 15.7 million direct and indirect American jobs, with 1.2 million of them directly associated with international inbound travel.
While feeling confident about the great potential for US-China tourism collaborations, Thompson said that "we've shown some decline in (the number of arrivals by Chinese tourists) the current year, and it was down last year."
Statistics from competent authorities showed that tourists from China to the United States dropped for the first time in 15 years, despite the fact that the total outbound trips of Chinese tourists rose significantly.
Latest data from the US National Travel and Tourism Office showed that the number of Chinese tourists traveling to the United States fell 5.7 percent to 2.9 million in 2018.
Calling the collaboration in US-China tourism industry "a really good relationship" over the years, the experienced US tourism expert said he hopes the healthy and stable ties will be sustained and strengthened.
The US tourism industry has enjoyed strong ties with the Chinese partners and "we're looking forward to continuing to nurture those," he said.
Commenting on the possible impact of the ongoing US-China trade tensions on the US tourism industry, Thompson said "we are always watching it and looking at it, because those things tend to have an impact, particularly as related to travel policy."