Great News for the Travel and Hospitality Industry in the U.S. for 2015 and beyond

On November 10, 2014, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping entered into an agreement that will be beneficial to both the United States and China. As part of an 8-day visit to Eastern China to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the two world leaders agreed to expand their visa program, encouraging greater travel and visitation between citizens of the two countries.

Under the new agreement, short-term tourist and business visas for Chinese citizens traveling to the U.S. and U.S. citizens traveling to China will now be valid for 10 years. Prior to the reciprocal agreement, a visa could not be issued for a period longer than one year. In addition, student and exchange visas that were previously good for just one year will now be good for five years. The U.S. will start issuing the longer visas on November 12, 2014.

The new visa policy is a very positive development that signals a stronger and more cooperative economic relationship between the United States and China. For the United States, one of the biggest benefits is the expected increase in the number of Chinese citizens traveling to the U.S. and giving a big boost to the tourism economy.

According to the fact sheet issued by the National Travel and Tourism Office of the U.S. Commerce Department, in 2013, 1.8 million Chinese travelers visited the United States and infused $21.1 billion into the economy. The influx of Chinese travelers helped to support 109,000 American jobs. Based on the new visa agreement, it is projected that by the year 2020, more than 7 million Chinese travelers will visit the United States, spend about $85 billion, and support some 440,000 jobs.

International tourism to the United States is our country’s biggest export. Not only does it bring in billions of dollars to our economy, but it also fosters better relationships with citizens from all around the globe. Making it easier for Chinese travelers to obtain visas to the United States has been a goal of the Obama Administration for years. Action such as streamlining paperwork and hiring more agents has helped speed up the time to obtain a visa. Now, the next logical step to encouraging more visitation has been taken.

States and cities that are favorite destinations for Chinese travelers will obviously receive the greatest economic benefit when the number of visitors from China quadruples. Hotels in cities like New York, Orlando, San Francisco, San Diego, and Las Vegas, should see their occupancy rates rise. As more Chinese citizens discover America, they will want to see more of America. Hotels from Alaska to Maine and from Minnesota to Texas can all expect to see more Chinese travelers in the coming years.

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