Chinese visitors spent more in the United States in 2016 than those from other countries, according to a report from the US Commerce Department on Friday.
It shows that the 2.97 million Chinese who visited the US in 2016 spent billion with the number of visitors up 15 percent and spending up 9 percent from 2015.
The growth in tourists and other visitors was described in the report as "nothing short of explosive". The US has had 13 consecutive years of growth in arrivals from China, 12 of which were double-digit growth.
While the number of Chinese visitors increased, overall arrivals in the US decreased by 2 percent in 2016 and visitor spending dropped by 1 percent. The report called it the first decline in visitors since 2009 and said preliminary data for 2017 indicates an uptick.
The report put China at the top in visitor spending, followed by Canada, Mexico, Japan, the United Kingdom, India, Brazil, Australia, South Korea and Germany. But Chinese visitor arrivals ranked fifth, trailing Canada, Mexico, the UK and Japan.
China dominates the rankings as the No 1 market for US tourism "exports", injecting more than million a day into the US economy.
Travel and tourism account for 61 percent of all US services exports to China, according to the report, compiled by the National Travel and Tourism Office under the International Trade Administration of the Commerce department.
Travel and tourism was the largest services export for the US in 2016, accounting for 33 percent of services exports and 11 percent of exports overall. In all, 75.6 million international visitors came to the US in 2016 for business, medical, education and leisure purposes, spending a collective 4.7 billion.