China's Popularity Among US Travelers Continues to Grow

Publish Time:2019-04-02 10:00:40Source:China Daily

【Introduction】:People in the San Francisco Bay Area continue to show a growing interest in visiting China and exploring the country s culture, history, natural wonders and lifestyle, say US tour operators.

People in the San Francisco Bay Area continue to show a growing interest in visiting China and exploring the country's culture, history, natural wonders and lifestyle, say US tour operators.

At the just-concluded annual Bay Area Travel and Adventure Show in Santa Clara, California, many visitors stopped at the booth of Alex Wang, a travel agency owner. They took brochures or asked him questions about the travel itineraries the company provided.

"We have attended the show for several years to promote our travel products. There's an increasing interest from Americans, including Chinese-Americans in the Bay Area," says Wang, president of, a Southern California-based tour operator.

In front of a big picture of Beijing's Temple of Heaven, Wang handed out thousands of brochures and flyers at the recent two-day exhibition.

"We provide both high-end luxury tours and budget tours for young people," he says. "Customers who are retired tend to choose long-haul tours, such as our Yangtze River cruise, which is very popular. Young people are usually attracted to short tours, such as weeklong visits to Beijing, Shanghai and Xi'an."

The Bay Area Travel and Adventure Show, which has been held for nine years in the region, is a major exhibition for tourists to find information about their desired destinations.

The event was projected to attract between 8,000 and 9,000 people this year, according to the organizer.

The booths of the China National Tourist Office and a few Chinese tourist agencies were among the most popular. People even waited in a line to get a free souvenir, such as Chinese zodiac bookmarks and panda calendars.

Cynthia Chang, who received a bookmark, says she had always wanted to visit her father's hometown in East China's Jiangsu province. As a second-generation Chinese-American, she says what attracted her the most was China's history and culture, as well as the food.

"The Bay Area is a very important market for us. It's one of the most affluent regions in the country and people here are generally more familiar with Chinese culture because of the large Chinese community," says Emma Ma, who works for the Los Angeles branch of the China National Tourist Office, which promotes tourism to China.

Spanning from the wine country to Silicon Valley, the Bay Area has a population of over 7 million people in nine counties and 101 cities, according to the most recent Bay Area census.

The median household income in San Francisco was $96,265 in 2017, compared with $61,372 of the US median household income, statistics of the US Census Bureau show.

The CNTO has been an exhibitor at each event of the travel and adventure show to promote Chinese tourism and travel information to American people, according to Ma.

This year, the CNTO worked with three local travel agencies -, Access Asia Tours and China Travel Service, as well as two airlines - Air China and Air Canada - to present various travel options at different price points.

"The classic destinations for those tourists who have never been to China are the 'Golden Triangle'-Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai," says Napio Asahara, manager of sales and operations at Access Asia Tours, a North America-based tour company specializing in customized private tours to China.

Asahara says her company focuses on small, high-end tours and most of their clients are retired people who have more leisure time and can afford higher priced tours.

Thanks to the CNTO's overseas promotion of the Silk Road tourist destinations in the last few years, several travel itineraries based on the ancient trade route have been developed and highlighted in the brochures at the show.

Another destination that is proving popular is Sichuan province, which has been actively promoting its tourist resources in the US over the past two years, says Wang.

"When we attend such travel shows, we are often asked about pandas or Sichuan cuisine," says Wang.

China's inbound tourism remained steady in 2018 when a total of 141 million visitors were recorded, a rise of 1.2 percent year-on-year, according to figures from China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

More than 5 million people traveled between China and the US in 2016, which was designated as the US-China Tourism Year by both countries.

"To welcome more American tourists to China, we tour operators need to develop in-depth tour experiences," says Wang.

Last year, his company partnered with Shandong province to add Confucius' hometown and Qingdao to their existing tour routes from Beijing to Shanghai.

Aside from being a "time capsule of ancient cultures", China is also a "monumental stage showcasing modern miracles", says Wang. "It's a unique experience for overseas tourists to see the contrast between ancient Chinese culture and its modern entrepreneurial spirit."

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