China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Tuesday issued a travel alert for Chinese tourists traveling to the United States.
Noting the frequent occurrence of shootings, robberies and theft in the United States recently, the ministry warned Chinese tourists of the risks of traveling there.
Chinese tourists are urged to learn about the public security situation and related laws and regulations of tourist destinations, to raise their safety awareness and step up precautions to stay safe.
The travel alert is valid until Dec. 31, 2019.
Yu Jiannan, a spokesperson for the ministry, said the travel alert was issued out of safety considerations.
"The safety of every Chinese citizen abroad is an all-time concern for the Chinese government," Yu said at a press conference in Beijing Tuesday.
He said the frequent occurrence of violent crime including gun crime in the United States had either threatened or harmed the safety of Chinese tourists and their assets.
The United States is one of the key long-distance destinations for Chinese tourists.
In 2018, about 3 million Chinese tourists visited the United States and spent roughly 30 billion U.S. dollars there, according to the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office.
Chinese citizens traveling to the United States were recently harassed by U.S. law enforcement agencies, which is not only unfair to Chinese tourists but also hurts their desire to visit the United States, according to tourism experts.
Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy, said since July 2018 the number of Chinese tourists traveling to the United States had declined both year-on-year and month-on-month.
He attributed the drop to travelers' safety assessments and their choice of destinations.
"Safety is the most basic condition a tourist destination must provide to attract tourists," said Zhang Rungang, vice president of the China Tourism Association.
He said the decline of Chinese tourists would have an impact on the United States as China is its key source of tourists. For Chinese tourists, Zhang said, they have many other choices around the world.
In 2018, Chinese citizens made nearly 150 million outbound trips, according to Yu.
"So many tourists. Where do they choose to go? That question depends on both personal preferences and the products of travel agencies," Yu said. "A key consideration is the overall safety situation of the destinations."
"I believe Chinese tourists will make a wise choice, based on their own situations and prudent assessments on the safety status," he added.