China boosts California tourism growth

Updated: 2016-05-03 13:10

By LIA ZHU in San Francisco(

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China boosts California tourism growth

Two girls from China pose before the store of Burberry, a favored brand by Chinese, at Santa Monica Place, a three-storyed outdoor shopping mall in Santa Monica, California,April 2014.The shopping aims to become a magnet for Chinese tourists by offering special amenities such as Chinese translated maps and discount books as well as Chinese interpretation service. [Provided to China Daily]

China continues to contribute to the growth of California's travel industry, which has expanded for the sixth consecutive year following the 2007-2009 recession, according to an industry report.

Last year, travelers in California spent $122.5 billion, and tourism spending contributed $9.9 billion in state and local tax revenue and generated more than 1 million jobs in the state, according to an annual economic impact report released on Monday by Visit California, a nonprofit organization that promotes California on behalf of the state's tourism industry.

The report says that direct visitor spending represents a 3.4 percent increase over 2014in current dollarsand a 4.9 percent increase in real dollars. The inflation-adjusted increase was greater because of the decline in motor fuel prices.

The GDP of the California travel industry was $62.3 billion in 2015, about 2.5 percent of the state's total, says the report.

Of total visitor spending, 24.4 percent is attributable to international visitors, and China is the fastest growing tourism market to California.

California receives around 1 million visitors a year from China who spend $2.6 billion, according to Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California. She said China is expected to soon overtake Canada as the largest international market, which is "something" considering that Canada is so close to the United States.

Beteta said the state has seen an 899 percent growthin Chinese visitors in the last 10 years and from 2014 to 2018 they expect growth at 65 to 70 percent overall.

"Because it (the Chinese market) is so important, we are actually investing almost $10 million a year in that market, and we just finished opening two more offices in China," she said.

Visit California added offices in Chengdu, Sichuan province in southwestern part of China, and Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong province,this year.

In the next two weeks, Beteta said she will be leading a delegation of CEOs to China promoting various iconic attractions and destinations in California.

However, the report also noted that the recent decline in the value of the Chinese yuan and other currencies in relation to the dollar has reduced the growth of spending by international visitors.

"We are seeing some headwinds," said Beteta. "Our job is to communicate the value of California vocational experience; we will be mindful of that (devaluation) and we are optimistic."