Travel Profile (total)

  Yr/Yr % Chg
Visitor Spending (2016p) $3.12 billion -
California Market Share (2015) 45.5% -
Visitors to California (2016p) 1.4 million -
2017 Visitation Forecast (% change vs. 2016p) 1.5 million +11.2%
2021 Visitation Forecast (% change vs. 2016p) 2.3 million +67.5%
2021 Spending Forecast $6.1 billion -

(updated May 2017)
U.S. Department of Commerce; Tourism Economics 

Leisure Travel Profile (61% of total)  

Vacation/Holiday 82% 122
Hotel/Motel 93% 93
Average Length of Stay - Nights 12.5 99
Average Spend Per Trip $2,090 105
Average Destinations Visited Per Trip 3.5 112
Average Party Size 2.4 141
Travel with Children 23.5% 179

Sources: U.S. Department of Commerce; CIC Research, Inc.


Market Conditions

China GDP Quarterly Growth Rate
Chinese Yuan

China GDP growth in the first half of 2016 was 6.7 percent (in line with expectations) and leading economists project 6-6.5 percent growth for 2017-18 (in line with government forecast)

There has been rapid growth in household spending, up 9.2 percent in 2015, with over 4 million millionaires

Rapid urbanization still represents only 54 percent of China’s population versus the 80 percent average in developed economies

66 percent of China’s GDP growth is being driven by consumer spending

  Check current exchange rates on

The Yuan Renminbi (RMB) is fundamentally pegged to the U.S. dollar and fluctuation is limited, with no impact reported on travel to the United States. The RMB is now back to 2011 levels.

Sources: International Monetary Fund,, National Bureau of Statistics of China


Competitive Landscape


Top 2015 Spenders

New York: Statue of Liberty - major icon
Las Vegas:
Honeymoon, Family, Outdoor
History, Culture
Diversity, Laid-Back Attitude, Proximity

Australia: $18.5M
Korea: $15.6M
Malaysia: $11.6M
Thailand: $9.45M
California: $7.4M

    Source: Nielsen


 Market Barriers


Risk Factors

  • Language barrier
  • Long travel time to the United States/California
  • Immature market competition and limited product development
  • High number of group tours prevent exploration beyond gateway cities
  • Chinese Yuan continuous depreciation to U.S. dollar
  • Local- and regional-level government debt has risen to unsustainable levels in recent years
  • China’s assertive stance with regards to maritime border disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea has raised tensions significantly in East Asia





  • 140 weekly nonstop flights to three gateway cities: San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles
  • 41,176 weekly nonstop seats
  • United Airlines launched second daily flight from Shanghai to San Francisco in June 2016
  • United Airlines launched new flight from Hangzhou to San Francisco (three per week) in June 2016
  • Hainan Airlines launched a twice weekly Changsha to Los Angeles flight in January 2016 using a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
  • There are 11 gateway cities to California: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Chengdu, Changsha, Hangzhou, Jinan, Nanjing, Qingdao and Xi’an
  • Planning timeframe: 1–3 months in advance (71 percent travelers)
  • Booking timeframe: Aug.-Sept. for October vacation period; Sept.–Nov. for travel between December to February; March–May for travel between July to August
  • More than 30 percent of travel to California is booked through traditional tour operators and travel agencies, with the remainder booked through online travel agencies and directly with airlines
  • Over 80 tour operators package California


Target Profile

Primary Target
  • Top 25% income households
  • A/B social class
  • Passionate about or regularly travel (traveled internationally in the past year and plan to travel abroad in the next year)
  • 37 — Median age
  • Top 25 HHI ($24K USD)
  • Married; 68 percent / 125 and have children (30 percent / Index 131)
Source: Carat CCS    



Other Market Insights

  • Market:
    • Increased consumer confidence
      • Increased to 107.2 in October from 104.6 in September of 2016
    • Rapidly growing middle class
      • 2010: 50 million; 2015: 300 million (1/4 of China’s population); 2020: 600 million (1/2 of China’s population)
  • Product Experience:
    • Increase in visitors seeking FIT experience
      • 80 percent of Chinese visit the United States as FIT or on skeleton (air/tel) packages, up from 70 percent last year
  • Audience:
    • Consumer spending soaring, driven by increased disposable income
      • Consumer spending has seen 9 percent growth annually (2011: 22% of GDP; 2015: 37% of GDP; 2025: 42% of GDP)
      • Disposable personal income increased to 31,195 RMB in 2015 from 28,844 RMB in 2014
      • Cash reserve ratio remained unchanged at 17 percent in November from 17 percent in October of 2016
    • Under-35 demographic growing and outspending their elders
      • Consumption by China’s under-35 demographic is growing at 14 percent per year versus 7 percent for their elders
      • China’s under-35 demographic are outspending their parents and grandparents by as much as 40 percent in key product categories including travel
    • China’s FITs are young, well-educated, affluent, and have international travel experience
      • 91 percent are aged 18-44
      • 77 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher
      • 41 percent say they can understand most English
      • FITs have taken 5.5 international trips on average
      • Over a quarter of China’s FITs live in Guangdong province, followed by Shanghai, Sichuan, Beijing and Jiangsu provinces

Source: National Bureau of Statistics of China; Deutsche Borse Group; Alizila Consulting


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