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NTA enters next phase of China Inbound Program

LEXINGTON, Ky. — NTA is moving into the next phase of its China Inbound Program, turning over operation of the Visit USA Center in Shanghai to Brand USA.

The program began in 2008, when the governments of the United States and China signed a memorandum of understanding, allowing Chinese leisure travelers to visit the United States in group tours.

Since then NTA has maintained a list of U.S. tour operators registered to handle inbound Chinese group travelers. In 2010 the association opened the NTA Visit USA Center in Shanghai as a hub for marketing travel to the United States. The office was operated in cooperation with, and with support from, the International Trade Administration’s Market Development Cooperator Program.

“When we created our China Inbound Program and opened the NTA Visit USA Center, there was no national, comprehensive program to market the United States as a destination. Now that Brand USA and the Visit USA Committee are becoming active in the market, NTA will not operate the Visit USA Center in Shanghai,” said Lisa Simon, NTA president.

Simon added that NTA will continue to provide consulting and educational sessions, organize trade events such as the U.S. Pavilion at the China Outbound Travel and Tourism Market in April in Beijing and present the second China Market Forum during Contact, NTA’s tour operator event, which will be held in Hawaii Aug. 15–17.

“NTA can be proud of the role the association played in building a bridge to the market in China,” said Isabel Hill, deputy director of Travel and Tourism Industries at the U.S. Department of Commerce. “Their work clearly contributed to the growth of travel and tourism exports, and I’m confident that, with NTA’s continued involvement, travel to the United States will continue to increase.”

Overall, the number of Chinese visitors into the United States rose from 493,000 in 2008 to more than a million in 2011, with a forecasted total of 1,536,000 in 2012. The number of tourists in groups handled quarterly by the 149 NTA operators rose from 46,709 in 2010 to 121,180 in the most recent survey, conducted in the third quarter of 2012.