Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Tourism

China and U.S. to Improve Tourism Ties, Says Chinese President Xi

5 months ago

The U.S. and China will improve air connectivity and streamline visa processing, said Chinese President Xi Jinping in public remarks on Wednesday. Xi made the remarks at a dinner hosted by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and US-China Business Council. 

The dinner followed Xi’s meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco. 

“Today, President Biden and I reached an important consensus,” said Xi. “Our two countries will roll out more measures to facilitate travels and promote people-to-people exchanges, including increasing direct passenger flights, holding a high-level dialogue on tourism, and streamlining visa application procedures.”

Long visa wait times and weak air connectivity prevented the full resumption of Chinese tourism to the U.S. Without Chinese tourism, the U.S. can’t fully recover from the pandemic, Brand USA CEO and President Chris Thompson has said.

Before the pandemic, Chinese tourists were the U.S.’s highest spenders. “Before the pandemic, 2.6 million visitors a year spent about $15 billion. There wasn’t another market anywhere close,” said U.S. Travel Association CEO and President Geoff Freeman at the Skift Global Forum. “This is a market that in many senses will make or break what we do on the international side.”

Tourism

U.S. Sees India Surge to its Second Top Traveler Market

6 months ago

India was the U.S.’ s second top market for travelers outside of North America between April and June, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office’s data released Monday. Over 500,000 Indian travelers came to the America in the those three months, up from 392,000 and 498,000 for the same period in 2022 and pre-pandemic 2019, respectively.

In the first six months of 2023, over 800, 000 Indian travelers came to the U.S., making it America’s second largest’s non-North American market after the UK this year.

Nearly 60% of Indian travelers came to the U.S. for vacation, business or a conference in the first six months of this year, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office. On average, Indian travelers spent $3,500 per trip in the U.S. The states they visited the most were California, New York and Texas.

In 2023, the U.S. is expected to welcome 1.4 million Indian travelers, which is 97% of their pre-pandemic volume, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office. It will be the U.S.’s sixth top source overseas market in 2023, after the UK, France, Germany, Japan and Brazil. In 2019, India was the U.S. eighth-largest market.

It’s notable is that India has recovered so quickly and is rising as top source market for the U.S. despite long visa wait times at U.S. embassies, which suggests inbound travel from the country has been heavily restrained.

While the number of visitor visa approvals for Indians has “outperformed” 2019 levels, they remain over 400 days on average, said U.S. Travel Association CEO and President Geoff Freeman at Skift Global Forum. In New Delhi, for example, an Indian national would have to wait 542 days for a visa interview at the U.S. Embassy.

The visa wait times deter Indian travel into the U.S. “The message to that traveler is all but go away. This is anything but a welcoming environment,” said Freeman. 

U.S. destination marketing organizations have been investing in driving tourism from India. New York Tourism + Conventions, San Francisco Travel and Los Angeles Tourism have expanded their marketing efforts in India this year.

“We’ve invested heavily in India,” said NYC Tourism + Conventions CEO and President Fred Dixon at Skift Global Forum. “I was just there in January, we’ll be back again next January. We see a huge opportunity in the future from India. We’re excited about the airlift opportunities.”