The U.S. trade war with China appears to have caused a significant slump in Chinese visitors to the United States, according to the latest findings from flight tracking agency ForwardKeys. The agency suggests that this slump could cost the American tourism sector “dearly” this year.
Since March 23 when the first tariffs against China took effect, ForwardKeys’ data shows the year-on-year figure to August is down by 8.4%. The number is falling further as new rounds of tariffs have been announced.
The negative impact on the Chinese currency, which has fallen 7.5% against the US dollar since tariffs were introduced – meaning tourists’ money buys less – and warnings from Beijing about US travel security risks, have likely further influenced the trend, it says.
In contrast, weekly bookings from China to the US had been up 2% from the last week of February (after the Chinese New Year holiday) to March 23.
For the rest of the year, Chinese outbound bookings to the US are 9.6% behind where they were at the same time last year. Chinese outbound bookings worldwide are ahead by 5.5%, says ForwardKeys.
By way of a benchmark, Chinese bookings for travel to Canada were up 4.8% to the end of July and are currently ahead 8.0% for August to December.
The biggest impact has been on bookings for group travel (six or more passengers) from China to the US, currently behind for the rest of 2018 by 34.4% compared to last year.
Bookings by free independent travelers (FIT) are behind 3.9%, with leisure travel being worse affected than travel for business or travel to visit friends and relatives.