Expert on China-US tourism

CNC
Added On October 7, 2017

With more Chinese holidaymakers than ever heading to the United States, an American expert says tourism is helping to expand people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two countries. 
 
Chris Thompson is the president and CEO of Brand USA, an organization dedicated to marketing the United States as a premier travel destination.
 
SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH): CHRIS THOMPSON, President and CEO of Brand USA 
"In the case of our two nations where the cultures are very different, and the language is obviously a big barrier, travel really serves a great way of introducing the destination to the individuals, so that's a big benefit."
 
According to Brand USA, China has become the number one market for U.S. travel and tourism exports. 
 
It is also the largest market in terms of spending.
 
SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH): CHRIS THOMPSON, President and CEO of Brand USA
"2016, just last year we hosted nearly 3 million Chinese visitors, but their collective spending is greater than that of Canada individually, and Mexico individually, so those nearly 3 million visitors spent 33 billion U.S. dollars. So it's our singular largest spending collective spending from one market and spend per visitor is the highest of any of the markets that we promote in, and  all the indications are as it relates to growth that between now and 2021 we are anticipating welcoming an additional 3 million Chinese visitors, which is about a little over 120% increase over the next three to four years."
 
Tourists are being encouraged by a number of media campaigns, such as Brand USA's very own "National Parks Adventure".
 
SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH): CHRIS THOMPSON, President and CEO of Brand USA
"It's actually been showing in on big screens in China, but just recently we watched it on the digital streaming platform with Youku and I think the most recent numbers have is having nearly a million downloads of the film through that platform over the last couple of months, so it has resonated very well in China and it has been really successful around the world, and I think the opportunity to tell the story was even more compelling than we thought we first made the film."  
 
In 2016, almost 3 million Chinese people visited the United States, up from just 400,000 in 2007. 
 
SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH): CHRIS THOMPSON, President and CEO of Brand USA
"The economic contribution is the one that gets talked about most often because it defines travel as an export. What all of us that are in the business of promoting destinations are trying to do more people, more spending and all the benefits to that, but as important and often under publicized is the soft diplomacy benefits."
 
Having visited China many times before, Thompson believes that "There's nothing like travelling to a destination to really learn about the heart and soul" of the place.
 
SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH): CHRIS THOMPSON, President and CEO of Brand USA
"Every destination I've been in China to be able to get to know the people better, learn new nuances of the language better, and then have the experiences as favorably enhance my opinion of China. I think that's the case coming into the United States also."
 
Thompson, who has been in the travel business for 35 years, said tourism has benefited China-U.S. relations in recent years.
 
SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH): CHRIS THOMPSON, President and CEO of Brand USA
"I think the dialogue we have with China as it relates to our governments, and the realization of the impact of China is as good as anywhere we have in the world and certainly with both markets being such big targets for each other. That really helps us to realize all the benefits we were looking to accomplish."