China cautioned its citizens planning to visit the United States on Tuesday due to safety concerns.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued a warning on Tuesday that Chinese tourists should assess risks before traveling to the US, saying shootings, robberies and thefts have been on the rise.
Chinese travelers were also advised to learn more about public security conditions, laws and regulations concerning their destinations to ensure safer trips. The alert is valid until Dec 31.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese embassy in the US also reminded its citizens traveling to the US and Chinese companies in the US to exercise heightened vigilance. This alert is also valid through Dec 31.
US law enforcement agencies have increasingly been subjecting Chinese citizens traveling to the country to entry and exit interviews, the ministry's department of consular affairs said. It advised people to call the embassy and consulates if they required assistance.
The warning was issued in consideration of travelers' safety, Yu Jiannan, vice-director of the general office of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, said at a news conference organized by the State Council Information Office on Tuesday.
"Safety is the most important issue for tourism, and the Chinese government is concerned about every citizen's life, especially when they travel overseas," he said. "The US is one of the hottest attractions for Chinese people, however, violent crimes and public security incidents have happened in recent years, posing threats to Chinese travelers' lives and property."
Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy, also emphasized that safety is the foundation for tourism development while security events that frequently occur in the US may hamper travelers' trips there.
"Every year, we have 150 million people traveling overseas, including to neighboring countries like Japan, Thailand and South Korea, and also some long-distance destinations such as Australia and Europe," Dai said. "The destination they chose is based on their safety evaluation and also financial considerations."
He said the number of Chinese travelers bound for the US registered an overall decline since July.
"Shootings and violent crimes have cast a shadow over travel," he said. "Furthermore, the currency exchange rate is not stable, hindering travelers' buying power. It's undeniable that the current political landscape also impedes tourism."
Dai remained positive on the future development of tourism between China and the US.
"We have over 3 million people visit the US every year who each spend on average more than $10,000 there. Also, China is one of the main attractions for US travelers," he said. "Though we may encounter obstructions over the short term, I'm confident in the future development of tourism."
The National Travel and Tourism Office of the US released a statement saying that last year, the nation received about 3 million visits made by Chinese people whose spending in the US totaled around $30 billion.
Wang Qingyun contributed to this story.