US tourism industry feeling pinch of Asian hate

IN NEW YORK. Philippine Consul General Elmer Cato (standing, second from right) in a file photo joining a rally against hate crimes on Filipinos and Asian, Pacific Islander Americans in New York. He asks Filipinos to continue to be alert and vigilant.

By Gilda Balan, Correspondent

SAN FRANCISCO – The actions of a tiny fraction of Americans inflicting harm on Asian-Americans are also causing untold damage to the US economy, specifically the tourism industry.

One of the biggest markets that boost multiple segments of the US economy are Chinese travelers ready and willing to spend their money in traversing the world for business and pleasure.

But growing cases of assaults on Asian-Americans as well as Asian tourists visiting the country’s numerous sites has now made the US a hard sell.

A geo-political risk analyst for decision intelligence company Morning Consult says China is playing up the anti-Asian attacks in order to curb the enthusiasm for traveling to must see places like Disneyland, Las Vegas, Hollywood, the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, the beaches of Hawaii, and the Golden Gate bridge, among many, many others.

Scott Moscowitz said in an interview that China now “sensationalizes negative foreign news” such as the seemingly non-stop assaults on Asians and Asian Americans in various parts of the US.

As a result, a growing number of Chinese tourists now believe that anti-Asian discrimination has made them afraid of visiting the US, which is home to millions of Chinese-Americans, as well as Filipino-Americans and Indian-Americans.

Morning Consult recently published a study based on a survey of 1,000 adults that showed “a plurality of Chinese have little to no interest in US travel.” They cited violence and anti-Asian discrimination as factors in their loss of interest in going to the US at this time.

The results of the survey can be considered worrisome, as 22 percent of mainland Chinese say they are “not interested at all” in heading for the US, while 23 percent say they are “not that interested.”

No less than 44 percent of the respodents said they were disturbed by the anti-China bias by locals.

An earlier survey said that “violent crime” was a reason to avoid traveling to the US.

Instead, they are now favoring Europe as a preferred destination, especially Western European nations where hate crimes against Asians are practically unheard of.

A good many of those surveyed still remember what has come to be known as the “Atlanta spa murders,” where six of eight women who were shot and killed were Asians, with the perpetrator being a White (Caucasian) man.

While the survey was conducted among ordinary Chinese citizens, it is not farfetched to think that its conclusions will also hold for average Filipinos, most of whom are aware of the hate crimes against Asians that have become the norm in the US.

For better or for worse, assaults on Asian Americans are widely reported in media from countries which have large immigrant populations in the US, such as the Philippines.

Not too many, however, are aware that US President Joe Biden signed into law last year the Covid-19 Hate Crimes bill.

It is worth noting that despite the continuous assaults on Asian Americans, there remains a strong desire to visit the US for countless Asians who have the means and the money to spend.

They only need to be convinced that the US remains a relatively safe place to visit with just a minimum of precautions.

As long as there is a serious effort to put an end to the senseless violence against Asians and Asian-Americans, tourist money can still flow into the US.

The California #StopAsianHate initiative can be considered a big step in the right direction.

A FilAm who recently went home to the Philippines said her relatives and friends back home still had a “strong desire” to visit their kin in the US.

“They still dream of visiting Disneyland,” she said.