November 10, 2014

President Obama announces new China visa policy

The U.S. and China have reached a new reciprocal agreement concerning travel visa policies.

President Obama made the announcement Monday while in Beijing for the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

“That’s why I’m very pleased to announce that during my visit, the United States and China have agreed to implement a new arrangement for visas that will benefit everyone from students to tourists to businesses large and small,” he said. “Under the current arrangement, visas between our two countries last for only one year. Under the new arrangement, student and exchange visas will be extended to five years. Business and tourist visas will be extended to 10 years.”

The visa extensions are expected to kick in Wednesday.

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) applauded the announcement. In July 2013, she 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,” Hirono said. “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.”

The change is expected to be a boon for the U.S. economy and especially in Hawaii. The White House estimates increased tourism and business to create up to 440,000 American jobs by 2021 and generate nearly $85 billion in revenue.

“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.”

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said that “Chinese visitors contributed more than $300 million to Hawaii’s economy last year and make up the fastest-growing market of outbound travel. 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.”

According to Schatz’s office, more than 130,000 visitors from China visited Hawaii last year, spending $328.6 million.

By:  KHON2 News Staff
Source: KHON2 News