The U.S. Department of Commerce announced yesterday the expansion of travel from China to the United States under phase 3 of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed by China and the United States, which allows Chinese leisure travelers to visit the United States in group tours. Phase 3 expands the reach of the MOU to include 3 additional Chinese provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, in addition to the 21 provinces and included in the first two phases. This phase will give the U.S. travel and tourism industry access to 67 million more Chinese citizens.
The United States and China signed the Memorandum of Understanding Between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the United States of America to Facilitate Outbound Tourist Group Travel from China to the United States on December 11, 2007 in Beijing, China on the occasion of the 18th Meeting of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT).
The MOU creates new opportunities for U.S. tour operators to work with Chinese travel agencies to create and market U.S. tour packages for Chinese leisure tour groups. Phase 1 of the MOU included 9 Chinese provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. Phase 2 was implemented in November 2009 and expanded the MOU’s scope to 12 additional provinces.
The United States has seen significant growth in travel from China since the MOU was signed. Since the initiation of travel under the MOU in 2008, total visitation from China to the United States has increased by 54 percent (as of November 2010), and total spending for 2010 (through September) was $3.6 billion, a 28 percent increase. China is our fastest growing market, and by 2015 it is projected to become the 6th largest arrival market for the United States (up from 16th before the MOU in 2008).