Surge of Chinese visitors shopping in U.S.

According to the Dallas Morning News,  the surge of Chinese tourists in U.S. are discovering Dallas shopping.

Li Jian Rong and her husband, Cao Yin, tourists from Kun Ming, China, enjoy the view from atop the Empire State Building in New York. (File 2007/The Associated Press)

The average Chinese vacation in America is a $6,000 adventure, with nearly half of that devoted to shopping, according to a recent study by the Boston Consulting Group.
Sales tax refunds show surging numbers of Chinese are moving through places like North Park Center and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Even though there are no direct flights to China from Dallas, rebates for Chinese shoppers grew 81 percent last year, according to Ben Petty, managing partner of Addison-based Tax-Free Shopping Ltd.
Our trade deficit with China remains lopsided. But one exchange where we are pulling even is tourism.
Chen Yue Liang, vice president of China International Travel Service, expects 1.4 million Chinese to visit the United States this year. The number of U.S. tourists visiting China, meanwhile, will total 1.5 million.
“Our goal with the United States is to reach 5 million in two-way tourism in 2015,” Chen said. “I’m very optimistic.”
Americans have been a familiar sight here since the 1980s. It’s the Chinese side of this tourism that’s exploding.

Chinese tourism from airports such as Haikou Meilan International in southern China has been surging in recent years. (File 2011/ImagineChina)

Visits by Chinese soar
In 2008, there were 493,000 Chinese visitors to the United States. That was the first year the U.S. government allowed Chinese tour groups to travel the country.
By last year, the number of Chinese visiting the United States had surpassed 1 million. The number is growing faster than 30 percent a year.
The U.S. trade deficit in goods with China hit $295 billion last year. We sold $104 billion. We bought $399 billion, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
In services, the United States has an advantage. We sell the Chinese more than $20 billion. We buy roughly $9 billion.
Most of the services we “import” from China come in the form of American tourist spending. A U.S. visitor “imports” hotel charges, meals, souvenirs and the like, just as a Chinese visitor in America is considered to be importing American goods.
In 2008, Chinese tourists spent $3.6 billion in the United States. This year, they are expected to spend $8.4 billion.
This money percolates through the U.S. economy — and Dallas — in many ways. Two years ago, NorthPark Center’s visitors from China were spending an average of about $1,800.

U.S. welcome mat
China International Travel’s Chen complained that the U.S. still makes it too hard to get a visa to visit the United States — a complaint heard around the world since 9/11. But U.S. officials say the situation with China has improved dramatically. Ninety percent of Chinese applicants are awarded visas. The waiting time to get an interview with a U.S. official — a U.S. visa requirement — has dropped from more than 60 days to less than 10.
In January, President Barack Obama relaxed the requirements for Chinese visitors by allowing anyone who made the trip within the last four years to come again without a new visa. Obama also directed the U.S. Embassy in China to hire more staff members to handle visas.
Chen said that the United States remains the country Chinese most want to visit, and that those who make the trip are generally satisfied with the experience.
But he said only a few U.S. destinations do well promoting tourism in China.
“Las Vegas, New York and Los Angeles are doing a good job,” he said.
He said Chinese know Texas because of ex-Houston Rockets star Yao Ming of the National Basketball Association, and because of the strength of Texas farm exports to China. Many come on business, however, and then bring their families when they return.
Source: Jim Landers (Dallas Mornign News)