Stories

Chinese tourism to U.S. has dwindled in the wake of Trump's trade war

Chinese tourists in LA
Newlyweds from Beijing, on Hollywood Boulevard. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty

After years of double-digit growth, the number of Chinese visitors to the U.S. and the amount they spend are shrinking, inflicting a hit on the $1.6 trillion travel industry.

The big picture: The inflection point was 2017, coinciding with President Trump's assumption of power and the intensification of U.S.-Chinese brinkmanship, according to data from the National Travel and Tourism Office, an industry association.

  • In 2012, the number of Chinese tourists rose 31.8%, and in 2016 by 16%, among an unbroken string of double-digit increases.
  • Their overall spending went from double digits to a 4% increase in 2017, and a 2% drop last year.

Why it matters: Chinese tourists and students are perhaps the biggest spenders of all visitors to the U.S. Last year, for instance, they spent $34.6 billion, compared with $16 billion by British tourists and $9 billion by South Koreans.