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Tourism Policy

Tourism Policy

The National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) plays an active role in domestic and international policy issues related to the U.S. travel and tourism industry. The Office fosters the development of policies that encourage the growth of travel and tourism to the United States.

The National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO):

  • Promotes the growth of U.S. travel exports through bilateral agreements with countries of strategic importance, including the Memorandum of Understanding with China on group leisure travel;
  • Represents U.S. tourism interests in intergovernmental organizations to lead the global efforts for travel and tourism policy concerns and issues, including chairing the Tourism Committee for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (;
  • Serves as the Secretariat for the interagency Tourism Policy Council, ensuring that the nationís travel and tourism interests are considered in Federal decision-making. More than 18 agencies and offices of the government participate in this Council;
  • Serves as the USG official head delegate to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Tourism Working Group (;
  • Serves as the official U.S. government observer and participant on committees and activities of the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
U.S.-China Tourism Year 2016

During the September 2015 Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade Travel and Tourism Working Group Meeting, held in Los Angeles, the U.S. Department of Commerce (National Travel and Tourism Office [NTTO]) and the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) agreed that in order to capitalize on the strong travel taking place between the United States and China, and to encourage further development of travel and tourism products and services in the two nations aimed at making travel to and within the two countries easier and more pleasant for visitors, the U.S.-China Tourism Year 2016 should be established.

This year of special events and programming was announced by the White House during President Xi’s visit with President Obama on September 25, 2015.

U.S. - China Tourism Year

Throughout 2016, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), in collaboration with Brand USA and other partners, will design and execute a year of events and activities that will promote and further open travel between the United States and China, expand market access, and advance initiatives to ensure a quality visitor experience for increasing numbers of travelers to and from both nations.

The U.S. - China Tourism Year provides a platform for the United States and China to continue to improve and upgrade systems to accommodate anticipated travel flows by:

  • Continuing progress on visa processing: About 2.5 million visas have been processed for Chinese citizens since the announcement of validity extension in November 2014, a 52.6 percent increase over the same period in the previous year and a substantial growth in first-time applicants.

  • Improving the border entry experience: The United States will continue to make progress toward a “Best in Class” arrivals experience for international visitors and will develop and make more readily available Chinese language materials and website pages.

Increased travel and tourism also requires dynamic, modern aviation systems, capable of supporting increased passenger and cargo traffic. Both governments will continue efforts to develop aviation policies, institutions and services to ensure the system adapts to meet the needs for both immediate and long-term growth.

Additionally, recognizing the important role that natural landscapes play in attracting visitors and promoting conservation, the Chinese Government and the U.S. National Park Service will partner to share lessons learned and best practices in the designation, development and management of a Chinese national park system through a Statement of Cooperation. U.S. and Chinese land and water governance agencies also will work to further their partnerships around sister parks, sister fish and wildlife reserves, and cooperation on forestry management.

International Travel to the United States

Travel and tourism is the United States’ largest export services industry, generating a $75 billion trade surplus for the U.S. economy in 2014. International travel to the United States generated $220.8 billion in 2014, supporting 1.1 million jobs.

China is an important contributor to revenues generated by international travel to the United States:

  • China was the number two country for visitor spending to and within the United States in 2014 with an estimated $23.8 billion spent on travel and tourism.
  • China accounted for 2.9 percent of total international arrivals in the United States in 2014, with an estimated 2.2 million travelers (a 21 percent increase over 2013).
  • National parks are a significant attraction for Chinese visitors to the United States, with 40% saying they had been to a national park when visiting.[i]

China represents a significant growth market: According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, China is the world’s largest tourism market, representing more than 100 million outbound travelers in 2014, and Global Chinese overseas travel expenditures in 2013 were a record $129 billion.

For more information on China, please visit these locations on the NTTO website:

2014 China profile -

Top 10 Arrivals and Top 10 Spend -

NTTO Forecast for Travel from China -

2015 Monthly Arrivals from China:

China travel export & import timeline:

In addition, more information about the travel and tourism industry’s involvement in the U.S.-China Tourism Year and/or encouraging travel to/from China, please visit these industry organizations’ websites:

Brand USA:

NTA’s China Inbound Program

NTA promotes the United States as a tremendous tourism destination to the China market through the association’s China Inbound Program. The program began in 2008, when the governments of the United States and China agreed to allow Chinese leisure travelers to visit the United States in group tours. NTA stepped up to maintain a list of U.S. tour operators registered to handle those groups.

Through this program, the association also

  • educates Chinese travel agents about leisure group travel,
  • distributes information on U.S. destinations, and
  • participates in and develops trade shows and road shows in China, working with Brand USA to promote the United States as a destination.

NTA Best of the USA Directory (Approved NTA Operators):

Important Changes to Travel Guidelines
Federal Partners Webinars

Click here to link directly to information and subsequent links for a series of webinars that have been developed by the Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security, and State in an outreach effort to highlight the latest data on international travel to the U.S. along with new and/or updated entry/exit requirements for global travel and tourism industry representatives.