Categorized | Business

New 10-year visas to promote China tourism


President Obama announced the United States and the People’s Republic of China have agreed to increase the validity period of short-term visas for tourists and business travelers from one to ten years, the longest validity period possible under U.S. law.

In addition, both countries agreed to extend the validity period of student and exchange visas from one to five years.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Tourism, Competitiveness, and Innovation, applauded the agreement for its potential to boost visitation to Hawaii.

“Chinese visitors contributed more than $300 million to Hawaii’s economy last year and make up the fastest-growing market of outbound travel,” Schatz said. “With the U.S. attracting just two percent of visitors from China, this agreement will give us the opportunity to take advantage of the booming Chinese travel market and grow Hawaii’s visitor industry.”

Last year, more than 130,000 visitors from China visited Hawaii, spending $328.6 million, and supporting thousands of local jobs. It is estimated that visitors to the United States from China will grow to 7.3 million in 2021 and contribute $85 billion a year to the United States economy.

As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Tourism, Innovation, and Competitiveness, Senator Schatz held hearings this year on the state of the U.S. tourism and travel industry and explored ways to improve the visa system and help the government achieve its goal of attracting 100 million visitors annually by 2021.


U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono applauded President Obama’s announcement that the U.S. and China have agreed to mutually extend the validity period for travel visas between the two countries. Beginning this November 12, the maximum validity of short-term tourist and business visas will increase from one to ten years, and the maximum validity of student and exchange visas will increase from one to five years. In July 2013, Senator Hirono led a bipartisan letter to urge Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew to push for extending travel visas for Chinese tourists during the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

“The longer visas for Chinese travelers is a game-changer for Hawaii’s visitor industry and something I’ve pushed for a long time,” said Hirono. “China is the fastest growing tourism market in the world. With this change, Hawaii can expect more new and repeat visitors from China. Chinese visitors are Hawaii’s highest spending visitor group, which means a stronger economy and more local jobs.”

“This visa extension agreement between the U.S. and China will serve to strengthen China as a tourism channel which, of course, positively impacts businesses in Hawaii in terms of increased revenue and more jobs for our residents,” said Chamber of Commerce Hawaii President Sherry Menor-McNamara. “This agreement also bodes well for our manufacturing in Hawaii initiative through which we are working to increase our state’s export opportunities to reach the 1.3 billion market that China represents, as well as increase supplier opportunities for products manufactured in Hawaii.”

Hirono long championed measures to boost tourism to Hawaii. In April 2013, the Senate immigration bill included key provisions from Senator Hirono’s VISIT USA Act, a bipartisan bill she introduced while serving in the U.S. House of Representatives that included longer visas for Chinese visitors.

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