Travel exchanges between China and the United States have grown exponentially in recent years. How do Chinese citizens view the United States as a travel destination and vice versa? Dr. Xiang (Robert) Li and Dr. Rich Harrill, tourism researchers at the University of South Carolina, conducted a series of studies for the tourism authorities of each country and made some interesting comparisons. A detailed comparison of the two countries can be found in their report, “China-U.S. Comparison,” from Dr. Li’s speech to the 2nd China-US Travel Director Summit. Some highlights include:
• When given a list of words, the 7,000 Chinese citizens surveyed most commonly described the US as dominant, successful, and expensive. Comparatively, of the 3,200 US tourists surveyed, unique, expensive, and exciting were the top characteristics cited. Interestingly, tourists from both countries described the opposite destination as unfamiliar and unsafe.
• When asked about what images or characteristics come to mind when thinking of the US as a travel destination, economically developed, democracy/freedom, and Statue of Liberty were the top responses among 1,600 Chinese travelers interviewed. Top identifiers of China in US tourists’ minds were the Great Wall, crowded/population, and Chinese food.
• New York City, Hawaii, and San Francisco were the top three destinations identified by Chinese tourists. US tourists identified the Great Wall, Beijing, and Hong Kong as the top three destinations.
• For Chinese tourists interested in visiting the US, the top three motivations are: seeing something new and different, learning and discovering, and experiencing a different culture. US tourists’ interest in visiting China named culture, different things, and history as primary motivations.
• Overall, Chinese travelers held a significantly more positive impression of the US versus US tourists’ views of China. One a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the most positive), Chinese tourists rated the US 7.68, while US tourists rated China 5.14.
Dr. Xiang (Robert) Li and Dr. Rich Harrill are Asia-Pacific travel and tourism experts. The above-mentioned findings are derived from the study they conducted on Chinese outbound tourism in the United States, jointly sponsored by the US Department of Commerce, the US Travel Association, and a group of US destinations and companies. Findings about US tourists’ views of China come from their study of US leisure travel to Asia commissioned by the China National Tourism Administration. For more information, please contact: Dr. Rich Harrill at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Xiang (Robert) Li at email@example.com .