New 10-year visa for Chinese visitors in the U.S. will boost America’s travel and tourism sectors

A new visa extension for US and Chinese citizens is expected to boost US tourism and is being looked upon as a positive step in relations between the two super powers.

US President Barack Obama announced on Monday in Beijing that the US and China had agreed to a reciprocal 10-year visa policy for tourists and businessmen. Speaking during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, Obama said the move would “benefit everyone”.

It will allow citizens of each country to travel between the two countries for up to 10 years on a single visa, putting China on level footing with other major trade partners like Brazil and several European countries. Travelers and students can currently receive one-year visas. Students will also now be able to obtain five-year visas. The visa extensions will start on Wednesday.

The change is expected to be a boon for the US economy, creating up to 440,000 American jobs by 2021 because increased tourism and business spurred by visits from more than 7 million Chinese would generate nearly $85 billion in revenue, according to a White House estimate.

Gervois magazine - The new travel magazine for millennials travelers in the United StatesLast year 1.8 million Chinese travelers visited the US, contributing $21.1 billion to the economy and supporting more than 109,000 American jobs, according to a White House estimate.

The tourism industry accounted for 2.8 percent of US GDP and nearly 70 million international tourists spent $166 billion in the US in 2012, according to the US Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration.

“Where this will make the most impact is on the repeat traveler to the US from China,” said Evan Saunders, CEO of Attract China, a Boston and Beijing consultant that helps US businesses attract Chinese tourists.

He said many Chinese visitors who want to make multiple visits to the US won’t have to go through what can be a time-consuming process of renewing a visa every year.

“By 2018, Chinese tourists are expected to be the top overseas traveler to the US,” Saunders told China Daily.

What do US businesses have to do to take advantage of the projected influx of tourists?

“US businesses need to utilize the Internet and social media to engage the Chinese consumer,” said Saunders. “And they need to do it about six months before the Chinese tourist departs for the US.”Gervois Rating Banner 01

In 2012, Obama issued an executive order to ease the issuance of visas to visiting Chinese and to speed up the visa request process at China’s US consulates.

“This convinced hundreds of thousands of Chinese visitors to choose the US as a leisure and shopping destination and knowing that an average Chinese visitor to the US spends an average of $7,000 per trip, the impact on the US economy could be measured in additional billions,” said Pierre Gervois, CEO and publisher of China Elite Focus Magazines.

The visa extension will bring explosive growth to the tourism industry, said Ralph Zhu, marketing director of US International Trip, a California-based travel agency which expects 300,000 customers from China this year.

“The biggest growth may come from Chinese students studying in the US,” he said, “A student may spend three or four years in the United States. Under the new visa policy, their family and friends won’t worry about renewing their visas and therefore are more likely to visit them every year.”

The Chinese account for about 28 percent of the foreign students studying in the US according to the Institute of International Education’s Open Door report.

The basic visa processing fee will remain the same, according to the US State Department.

Obama arrived in Beijing earlier for a week-long trip to the region and the APEC summit. Later he is scheduled for a state visit with Xi.

“The fact that President Obama announced these changes with what he termed the strong approval of Chinese President Xi Jinping at a major multi-lateral event like the APEC summit is a positive step,” Kenneth Lieberthal, senior fellow in foreign policy at the Washington-based Brookings Institution,told China Daily.

However, Lieberthal said the agreement’s effect on the relationship between the two super powers will probably be muted.

“It’s a huge and complicated relationship. Still it does suggest that both sides want to accomplish some positive things. The new visa requirements will provide a boost to travel and it will increase interaction between the two countries. That is always a good thing,” he said.

Lu Huiquan in New York contributed to this report.

Article by PAUL WELITZKIN, China Daily USA, New York

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President Obama’s travel initiative will increase the number of affluent Chinese tourists spending money in the U.S.

Acknowledging the prominent role of the travel and tourism sector in creating jobs and powering the economy, President Obama announced that he has issued an Executive Order aimed at boosting travel and tourism during an event in Orlando, Florida.

The President announced an initiative focusing on improving travel facilitation by coordinating activity among the Department of Commerce, Department of State, and Department of Homeland Security. To achieve this, the President has directed the Department of Commerce to create a task force to develop a “National Travel & Tourism Strategy.” The task force will coordinate cross-departmental efforts and ensure private sector participation.

To increase international tourism to the United States, President Obama recommends promoting unique U.S. destinations/experiences, reducing wait times for visas in rapid-growth countries such as China and Brazil, and making the U.S. Global Entry program permanent.

In remarks, the President stated, “Every year, tens of millions of tourists from all over the world come and visit America. And the more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work. We need to help businesses all across the country grow and create jobs; compete and win. That’s how we’re going to rebuild an economy where hard work pays off, where responsibility is rewarded, and where anyone can make it if they try.”

“I was honored to stand with the President in Orlando as he announced that travel and tourism will be a national priority,” said AH&LA President/CEO Joe McInerney. “Travel and tourism is among the nation’s largest employers and a top ten industry in 48 states – so this effort will benefit every community. By focusing on these high-growth sectors, the United States is poised to create jobs and strengthen the economy.”

Many of the priorities highlighted by the President today are shared by the AH&LA co-chaired Discover America Partnership (DAP). DAP is a lobbying and grassroots campaign working to advance visa and entry reforms in order to regain the share of the international traveler market the United States held in 2000. By recapturing America’s historic share of international travel, the U.S. could create up to 1.3 million new U.S. jobs by 2020 and produce $859 billion in cumulative additional economic output.

“While working with the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB), we reported that tourism is a low-cost/high-reward prospect and one of the few industries showing positive growth,” said Nancy Johnson, AH&LA chair and executive vice president, development, Carlson Hotels, America. “Promoting travel produces a multiplier effect that benefits all industries and TTAB estimates we could add 500,000 new U.S. jobs by 2015 with no cost to tax payers. We commend the President for taking this positive step forward.”

“President Obama’s travel initiative will certainly help the U.S. hospitality industry to acquire more affluent Chinese travelers and create more jobs in luxury retail, golf industry, and shopping centers”, said Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus, member of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. “In cities like New York City, hotels and retailers are now taking initiatives to attract the wealthy segment of Chinese customers, even before they arrive in the country, when they are still in China, planning their shopping trip to the U.S.”

Promoting travel and tourism remains one of AH&LA’s highest priorities. AH&LA and the Discover America Partnership will continue to work closely with Members of Congress, the Administration, and governmental agencies to highlight the incredible opportunity presented by bringing more international travelers to United States.