A coming explosion in Chinese leisure traffic to the US is being predicted in a newest  China forecast, prepared by Boyd Group International. An increasing percentage will be directly connecting on to interior airports such as New Orleans, Reno, Spokane, Colorado Springs, Memphis, and Bangor, while annual China-generated arrivals will swell from just 2.4 million in 2015 to over 6.5 million in 2020, and over that period of time, more than 23 million Chinese will visit the US.

“With nonstop flights to US gateways from more Chinese cities, an increasing share of visitors will start their US visit itinerary by connecting on to an interior airport,” said Michael Boyd, president of the firm. “This segment has already discovered places like the Thousand Islands, Moab, The French Quarter, and Yosemite, and this can be a traffic boon for more mid-size airports across the USA that develop aggressive China-outreach strategies.”

Now, almost 80% of Chinese visitors arrive from just two airports – Beijing and Shanghai Pudong. As nonstops are added from more Chinese cities, visitor numbers will expand rapidly as US access becomes more time-efficient for leisure visitors.

The current China-US travel generated from the top 15 Chinese cities is less than 15% of the potential demand.

Many secondary US airports and the regions they serve will be beneficiaries of this growth, as more Chinese gain knowledge of the US, and hub-connections become less challenging with better signage and new digital assistance programs for Mandarin speakers at both gateways and interior US airports.

These new digital channels will also allow airports and communities across America to establish a cost-effective marketing presence in China.

“New US flights from cities such as Chengdu, Changsha, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Nanjing and Xiamen, Chinese visitation increasingly air-connect to interior US cities, with a concurrent economic impact in the millions,” Boyd said.

“The determinant in where this traffic will visit depends on how US communities and airports prepare for the unique characteristics of the Chinese traveler, and how well they aggressively engage in projecting their ‘brand’ within China,” Boyd noted. Today, over 50% of all outbound Chinese travel initiates on consumers’ smartphones. “Having a digital presence in these consumers’ pockets is now not only possible, but necessary, to acquaint them with, and guide them through, a US destination.”

“The Airports: China” forecast is an independent analysis of the future of China-US air travel by Boyd Group International.