President Donald Trump’s tit-for-tat trade war with China appears to have caused a significant slump in Chinese visitors to the United States that could cost the American tourism sector dearly this year - according to the latest findings from ForwardKeys which predicts future travel patterns by analysing 17 million booking transactions a day.
Weekly bookings from China to the US were up 2% from the last week of February (after the Chinese New Year holiday) to March 23 when the first tariffs took effect. Since then, ForwardKeys’ data shows the year-on-year figure for August is down by 8.4%, falling further as new rounds of tariffs have been announced.
ForwardKeys’ data reveals that for the rest of the year, Chinese outbound bookings to the US are 9.6% behind where they were at the same time last year, whereas Chinese outbound bookings worldwide are ahead by 5.5%.
The biggest impact has been on bookings for group travel (six or more passengers) from China to the US, currently behind for the rest of 2018 by 34.4% compared to last year. Bookings by free independent travellers are behind 3.9%, with leisure travel being worse affected than travel for business or travel to visit friends and relatives.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation puts total spending by Chinese tourists abroad at USD 258 billion in 2017. The World Travel & Tourism Council reports that the value of tourism to the US from international visitors amounted to USD 200.7 billion in 2017, 8.6% of total exports.
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