Visitors from China will lead the growth in tourism numbers to the US in the coming years. Image: John Fraissinet/Flickr.

China and India Power Asia’s Tourism to the US

China India

The United States Department of Commerce is predicting strong growth in the travel and tourism sector at least through 2018, according to recently released figures. Revenues earned from tourist spending in the US are expected to continue to grow, as are the total number of visitors from abroad. In 2013, travel and tourism from abroad were worth over $180 billion to the US economy, and based on the projected gains, the number should rise to $250 billion by 2021. Some of the largest gains will be powered by visitors from Asia.

China will be the source of the biggest gains between now and 2018, projected to increase from the 7th largest source of foreign visitors in 2013 to the 4th largest in 2018. The top three spots are occupied by Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom respectively, though the number of Chinese tourists will nearly equal those from the UK if it continues to grow at the projected rate. The growth trend will benefit from new flights between the US and China, such as the new San Francisco-Chengdu route that will begin service in June, operated by United Airlines. It will be the first non-stop route to a Chinese mainland destination other than Beijing or Shanghai to be operated by an American carrier.

India is projected to be the second largest source of tourism gains coming from Asia, and third largest overall. India was the 11th largest place of origin for tourists visiting the US in 2013, and the Commerce Department predicts a 54% rise in tourist numbers by 2018. More than one million Indian visitors to the US are expected annually as soon as 2015. Part of the rise is thought to be driven by friends and family coming to visit the increasingly large Indian diaspora residing in the US and the growing number of Indian students here to study.

Other Asia-Pacific countries are also contributing strongly to the record tourism levels. Taiwan is projected to have the fourth-largest increase, at 52%, and South Korea and Australia are estimated to increase by 28% and 25%, respectively.