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Lingle in China: Encouraging travel to Hawaii

Gov. Linda Lingle, DBEDT Director Ted Liu and Hawaii delegation members enjoy a rare snow storm in the Forbidden City in Beijing. (Photo courtesy of The Governor's Office)

Gov. Linda Lingle, DBEDT Director Ted Liu and Hawaii delegation members enjoy a rare snow storm in the Forbidden City in Beijing. (Photo courtesy of The Governor's Office)

MEDIA RELEASE

During meetings in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, the governor focused on maximizing opportunities for Chinese tourists to travel to Hawaii.

Her discussions with key Chinese and U.S. officials centered on two critical areas – expediting the application process for Chinese visitors traveling to the U.S. and preparing for the first nonstop scheduled airline service from g to Hawaii, which is expected to begin early next year.

Building on the progress made since Hawaii and the China National Tourism Administration formed a cooperative agreement to increase two-way travel between Hawaii and China in 2005, Lingle met with Shao Qiwei, chairman of CNTA.

Lingle and Shao discussed the current situation of Chinese tourists going to Hawaii, including: visa issues, new developments in group leisure tour program, and the steps that can be taken by the United States and China to increase the number of Chinese visitors.

Lingle also spoke of the first scheduled direct air service between China and Hawaii, which is expected to start early next year, and Shao pledged his resources to support and encourage more Chinese tourists to travel to Hawaii.

While in Hong Kong, Lingle met with Commerce and Economic Development Secretary Rita Lau.

As part of her focus on Hong Kong’s economy, the Secretary is also responsible for the tourism portfolio.

With nearly 30 million visitors each year – half of which are from China – Lingle, Lau and senior officials from the Hong Kong Tourism Board discussed Hong Kong’s experience in attracting and hosting Chinese tourists.

In Shanghai, Lingle met with travel industry media representatives and business leaders and shared that travel to Hawaii is a perfect complement to the intense and rapid-paced lifestyle of Shanghai and other urban Chinese cities.

The governor explained Hawaii not only does Hawaii have a good balance of relaxation, shopping and an active cultural scene, but it also offers a great value and provides a safe environment for families and inter-generational travel.

On the governor’s first day in China, she met with U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman to continue discussions they had in Honolulu in August to ensure that obtaining a U.S. travel visa will not be an obstacle to traveling to Hawaii or the rest of the U.S.

U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman.

Huntsman confirmed U.S. consular offices throughout China offer scheduled appointments and set aside specific times to process group leisure travel visa applications.

To facilitate last-minute travel, which is especially important for Chinese travelers who want to participate in a conference or event in Hawaii, the embassy also offers a last-minute visa application process.

In addition, at Lingle’s request, the ambassador and the chief of the consular section agreed to designate a point of contact at each consulate in China with whom Hawaii officials can work to ensure that obtaining a U.S. travel visa is not an obstacle for Chinese to travel to Hawaii or the rest of the U.S.

Lingle also spoke to tourism industry leaders in China, including tour wholesalers, travel agents and airline executives.

During discussions with the tourism officials, Lingle and Hawaii Tourism Authority Chairman Kelvin Bloom provided an update about the anticipated start of Beijing-Honolulu service on Hainan Airlines, as well as other efforts Hawaii tourism leaders are undertaking to prepare for Chinese visitors.

Lingle and Bloom also held a roundtable discussion and interviews with Chinese media, including travel and leisure writers, to promote Hawaii as a visitor destination.

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