Feature: New visa policy draws more Chinese tourists to U.S.

February 18, 2015 6:09 am 

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 17 — Chinese tourist Yu Hu felt relief when she got a 10-year multi-entry U.S. visa recently, which means she can visit the U.S. whenever she has time in the next 10 years.

"I rescheduled my trip, giving myself more time to enjoy staying at one place. I need not put many tourist attractions into one trip, as I can come whenever I like in the next 10 years," she said.

The U.S. tourist visa used to be only one-year multi-entry, that's why many Chinese tourists liked to visit as many places as they can during a several-day short trip. Tight schedule made them exhausted, but they had to, being afraid that when they have time to come again, their visa may be expired, and applying a new one means more time and money.

Two special occasions coincide in China this February: Chinese New Year holiday, the longest public holiday in a year, and the longest winter break in recent years of Chinese schools. More Chinese tourists are coming to the U.S. which can be felt from the crowded Chinese travel groups exiting the Los Angeles International Airport.

Gary Locke, former U.S. Ambassador to China who made great efforts to push both sides of China and the U.S. to extend the visa validity in his term, told Xinhua in a recent interview that by giving Chinese tourists a 10-year visa, it will encourage more trips by the Chinese people to the U.S. "That's good for U.S. economy," he said. "They will shop at U.S. stores, go to U.S. restaurants and hotels. That means more jobs."

In 2013, 891,000 Chinese visitors entered California and spend 1.9 billion dollars, according to California tourism authority. The numbers in 2014 and 2015 are expected to grow, partly because of the extension of visa validity.

In addition, the numbers of Chinese students and people coming for business are also on the rise.

The number of Chinese students in the U.S. rose for the eighth consecutive year in 2014, reaching more than 886,000, a 16-percent increase over 2013, according to a U.S. report.

Investment of Chinese companies in the U.S. is getting larger in number and amount. Greenland, a Chinese company mainly doing business in real estate, began a one-billion-dollar project in downtown Los Angeles last year while Chinese auto-glass maker Fuyao invested 360 million dollars in a factory in Ohio.

As more people and money flew into the U.S. from China, U.S. service sector is making preparation.

To help managers of hotels, restaurants, attractions, shops and sightseeing transportation providers better understand Chinese culture and better serve Chinese visitors, Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Bureau started a "China Ready Training Program."

Mariam Tonapetyan, group sale manager of the Langham Huntington hotel in Pasadena city of Los Angeles County, said the training course was very useful to her. She learned in the classes that Chinese people prefer to drink hot tea instead of ice water, so preparing an electric kettle in their room will make them feel better. If there are also a bowl of instant noodle and a pair of chopsticks in their room, it will be fantastic. She also learned that most Chinese use Baidu as their search engine instead of Google. They use Wechat instead of Twitter or Facebook … Langham now has even Chinese breakfast available for groups.

South Coast Plaza, the biggest luxury shopping center in the U. S. west coast, started its annual Chinese New Year celebration on Feb. 12. Chinese traditional decoration and many cultural events will be avaiable in the shopping center until Feb. 22, which may give Chinese tourists a flavor of being at home.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told Xinhua in a recent interview that "Our city is actually a'China Ready City.'We welcome more Chinese people coming to Los Angeles." (PNA/Xinhua)

LAM/EBP

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