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China to be ‘America’s top travel market’ by 2018

24 Jun 2015
China will surpass the UK, Germany and Japan to become the number one source market for the US by 2018, destination marketer Brand USA predicts. Jay Gray, vice president of global market development of Brand USA, told Business Traveller Asia-Pacific the main reason for huge growth trends from China was the introduction of visa extensions to the country in November last year. Chinese short-term business travellers and tourists can now get multiple-entry visas valid for up to 10 years. “Chinese visits to the US increased 20 per cent last year, and we anticipated that it will be another 20 per cent growth for next year,” Gray said. Brand USA was established by the Travel Promotion Act to spearhead the nation’s first global marketing effort to promote the US as a premier travel destination. Gray said the Asian travel market in general had increased in the past 12 months. Business travel grew, along with a trend of more corporate travellers extending their business trips to add leisure travel with their families. About 75 million international visitors travelled to the US last year. Of that figure about 35 million visitors flew in, with 10 million of these from Asia, of whom 2.2 million were from China. For China and the rest of Asia, the west coast is the closest and preferred point of entry into the US. “That’s why Air China, China Southern and many other airlines are opening new routes to the US at major gateways such as Los Angeles and San Francisco,” Gray said. “These airlines are opening new routes to the east coast as well, reaching New York, Boston and Washington DC (see Air China’s Beijing-Washington DC here; Cathay Pacific Hong Kong-Boston here; Hainan Airlines’ Shanghai-Boston here). China has now become the number one source market for Washington DC.” Gray also said travellers’ exposure to second-tier US cities would rise, and new routes have opened to Dallas/Fort Worth last year (see American Airlines’ Hong Kong-Dallas here) with more anticipated. He said with Dallas situated in the centre of the country, travellers could use it as a connection hub to reach most other US cities within three or four hours. With more routes expected to be launched, these exposures to the country will increase. For more information, visit thebrandusa.com Valerian Ho                     
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