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Spotlight: Chinese tourists explore U.S. culture during Spring Festival holiday

  WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- For Chinese tourists who travel to the United States during the Spring Festival, immersing themselves in U.S. culture has become trendy.

  A tour at the Library of Congress, an ice hockey game and a Broadway musical are among the highlights of Angela Xie's just concluded one-week U.S. trip.

  "With less shopping, I have more time to experience local culture in-depth," Xie, who came from Shanghai, told Xinhua.

  "A senior-aged guide at the Library of Congress explained in detail the construction of the library with great passion," said Xie, adding that she was impressed with the high value placed on history even though the United States is such a young country.

  Recalling an ice hockey game at the Capital One Arena, Xie said it was unforgettable. "Men and women, old and young, they were all screaming and shouting, it was so exciting!" she said.

  Many Chinese tourists also flock to numerous museums to understand the diverse cultures in the country.

  Chu Li and her teenage son from Shenzhen plan to visit museums of Native Americans and Africans on their two-week trip. "We've done some research in advance," Chu told Xinhua. "We just want to learn more about the cultures of the minorities."

  As more Chinese become increasingly open-minded in their food choices, their interest in Western food has also been growing.

  Shao Rongjia from Shanghai told Xinhua that she and her cousin will visit a famous cupcake shop in Georgetown, Washington D.C., and also plan to have a meal at a seafood restaurant near the White House because "U.S. presidents have reportedly dined there."

  Xie said a pastrami sandwich brunch in Manhattan, New York was very unique. "It was so delicious," Xie said. "I also enjoyed the restaurant's atmosphere. It feels so American."

  In recent years, the number of Chinese tourists visiting the United States has been growing steadily. China is now the fifth largest visitor origin country, following Canada, Mexico, Britain and Japan, according to the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office. Its latest forecast showed that the number of Chinese tourists will reach 3.237 million in 2018, and exceed 4 million in five years.

  Instead of focusing on popular tourist attractions, more Chinese tourists have been turning their eyes toward places that arouse their interests and suit their needs, spending more time on cultural and educational experiences while spending less on shopping.

  After walking into several clothing stores in New York, Xie ended up not buying a single item. "I just want to buy something I really like. I don't have any list," Xie said.

  She said she is now less inclined to buy cosmetics and clothes on overseas trips because it's very convenient to purchase foreign products at home via cross-border e-commerce platforms, such as the NetEase Kaola and the Little Red Book.

  Xie said she would rather buy some souvenirs at museum gift shops, because they would have special characteristics.

  Xie's idea is echoed by Qu Bo from Beijing, who spent a few U.S. dollars at the National Air and Space Museum, his son's favorite stop during their 10-day U.S. trip.

  "He is especially interested in this area. He saw a lot of airplane models, and even selected a book himself," Qu told Xinhua, showing a freshly bought English book on the history of space exploration.

  With a 10-year multiple-entries visa, Chinese tourists can easily travel to the United States without planning long ahead. "I bought the flight tickets two weeks before departure," Xie said. "I could just come back anytime I want."