The China-US economic exchanges in the tourism sector are expected to enter a new, positive phase as the two nations yesterday announced the China-US Tourism Joint Declaration at the close of the three-day Strategic Economic Dialogue.
The declaration says the relevant authorities from the two sides will soon start official consultations on ways to encourage more Chinese to travel around the US, while emphasizing the importance of the tourism sector in promoting bilateral trade volume.
China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) officials were not immediately available for comment.
But the buzz is that the ADS (Approved Destination Status) issue, which has long troubled the two nations' regulators but has not been addressed, will be brought to the table again.
The ADS problem, if addressed, would give a big boost to bilateral economic exchanges, and more importantly, help erase part of the trade deficit the US has run up with China.
Though China has gradually opened up the tourism sector by granting ADS to many nations since its entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001, the US has not been granted ADS.
"It's the US, not China, that's responsible for the situation. They are not willing to open up the sector," said Li Xinjian, a senior researcher with School of Tourism Management under Beijing International Studies University.
Noel Irwin Hentschel, CEO of American Tours International and vice-chair of the US Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, agreed: "The two sides have conducted talks before, but US officials worry Chinese visitors wouldn't go back after they reach the US," Hentschel had told China Daily earlier.
But the CEO doesn't see this happening as the Chinese economy is growing bigger and the quality of life in China is getting better.
Hentschel is now dedicated to promoting ADS, and believes the problem will probably be resolved around 2008.
The US pins high hopes on tourists from China, expecting to receive more than 490,000 Chinese visitors in 2008, and 100 million by 2010, said Li of School of Tourism Management. This can't be easily realized if the ADS issue remains unresolved as it makes it difficult for Chinese residents to get US visa.
(China Daily May 25, 2007)