On Monday, February 29, the United States and China will launch the 2016 U.S.-China Tourism Year in Beijing at an opening ceremony hosted by Brand USA, the public-private partnership responsible for promoting the United States as a premiere travel destination to help maximize the economic and social benefits of increased inbound international travel to the United States.
An outcome of President Xi’s 2015 visit, the U.S. China Tourism Year aims to increase travel and tourism between the two countries by enhancing the traveler’s experience, increasing the traveler’s cultural understanding, and expanding the traveler’s appreciation of natural landscapes in each other’s countries.
“Travel and tourism is the United States’ largest services export, generating nearly $220.8 billion and supporting over 1.1 million U.S. jobs,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews said. “Expanding travel and tourism is critically important to both of our countries, not just to foster people-to-people exchanges, but as a key pillar of economic growth. The Tourism Year will help us communicate that we welcome travelers from China and encourage them to experience all that the United States has to offer.”
From the U.S. perspective, the Tourism Year offers the chance to build on the current double-digit growth in arrivals from China, expanding the United States’ share of the nearly 100 million Chinese visitors traveling each year. Key to achieving this goal is the 2014 announcement by the United States and China of a reciprocal extension of visa validity for tourist and business travel from one to 10 years, and student travel from one to five years.
Total travel and tourism exports to Chinese visitors totaled a record $24 billion in 2014, accounting for 57 percent of services exports to China.
Deputy Secretary Andrews will deliver remarks at the opening ceremony, along with U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus, Brand USA President and CEO Chris Thompson, and the Chairman of the China National Tourism Administration. President Barack Obama will also be featured in a brief video message about the U.S.-China Tourism Year, which can also be viewed on the U.S. Embassy website homepage starting March 1.
Kelly Craighead, Executive Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets Arun Kumar will also participate in the launch event.