The Arizona Office of Tourism announced that the number of tourists from China is set to overtake that of European visitors by the end of this year. Although Mexico and Canada are the leading sources of tourists, China has recently been sending more visitors to Arizona, with nearly 64,000 in 2015. China sent the most tourists out of all non-European countries in 2015, and the number of overnight visits to Arizona has been increasing by around 20% per year — the highest rate among countries that send tourists to the state.
The office credits the growth of the Chinese market to its resilience on currency related issues. Visa Card spending by Chinese tourists in Arizona increased nearly 34.8% in 2015 from the year before, while the US dollar value only increased by 2%. Chinese tourists are also spending more time in Arizona per visit. Many European tourists travel with their spouses or families and spend less than a week in Arizona, while the Chinese tourists usually travel alone and stay longer. International visitors spend an average of 14.9 nights in the United States. In contrast, Chinese visitors spend an average of 18.4 nights in Arizona, and explore between one and seven destinations in the state.
Nationally, Chinese tourists have increased more than 450% between 2007 and 2014. Travel and tourism accounted for $23.7 billion or 13% of US exports to China in 2016, and Arizona receives more than $1 billion from Asian tourists annually. The burgeoning relationship between China and Arizona owes in part to the six sister-city relationships they share.
Yumiko Kozu is an undergraduate student at Dartmouth and a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington.