In a just released report that touts record outbound travel from China for the first half of 2018, the China Outbound Research Institute (COTRI) tells us that the USA remains the favorite long-haul destination for Chinese travelers (See table below). While the United States was No. 10 in COTRI’s top ten international destinations visited by travelers from China during the first six months of the year, all of the other countries listed were close-in regional or short-haul destinations.
This does not mean that the number of visitors to America recorded by COTRI for January through June–they are the only hard data on the subject, given the absence of any figures from the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO), which hasn’t issued a report in six months¹—are cause for elation. What data are available suggest otherwise. In the COTRI table below, 1.2 million Chinese travelers visited the U.S. in the first half of 2018.
The last forecast for 2018 from NTTO projected that more than 3.2 million Chinese travelers would visit the United States this year. While historical data show that China sends about 55 percent of its total annual visitors to the USA in the second half of each year, a 55-percent share of the total for July through December 2018 would translate into about 1.47 million, for an overall 2018 total of roughly 2.67 million: this is about 530 thousand less than the 3.2 million NTTO forecast.