Visa change may boost tourism to the US

Updated: 2014-11-28 07:36

By Wang Qian(China Daily)

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    Tourism boom

Visa change may boost tourism to the US

US Secretary of State John Kerry (centre R) prepares to give a visa to a Chinese woman at a press conference at the US Embassy in Beijing on November 12, 2014. US President Barack Obama announced on November 10, a deal to extend visas for Chinese nationals going to the US to work or study, insisting he wants China "to do well" despite simmering tensions between the world's two largest economies. WANG ZHAO/For China Daily

While some travel industry insiders believe the new visa policy will have little impact on investment immigration in China, many agencies believe it will result in a surge in the number of Chinese traveling to the US.

Diana Dai, marketing director of vocations at Ctrip International Travel Service Co in Shanghai, said the company has noticed a significant rise in inquiries about travel to the US, and there are only a limited number of places left for the Christmas tours it has organized.

Gao Xing, CEO of Qunar, an online travel agency, told Beijing News that the change to the visa policy will make life much easier for students and businesspeople who want to travel to the US.

With the increasing number of flights and the greater convenience in procuring a visa, an increasing number of Chinese will visit the US for business, study, or leisure, and Gao's company has already started to focus on developing new tour programs for 2015.

According to a statement released by the White House on Nov 10, 1.8 million Chinese visited the US in 2013, contributing $21.1 billion to the economy and supporting more than 109,000 jobs.

As incomes in China continue to rise, the number of Chinese citizens able to afford international travel and tourism will hit about 7.3 million by 2021, contributing nearly $85 billion a year to the US economy and supporting 440,000 jobs, the statement said, adding that a competitive visa policy is needed to secure the US as the chosen destination for millions of Chinese travelers, who cite the ease of obtaining a visa as the second most important factor in deciding where to travel. Cost remains the most important reason.

US property purchases

In addition to the expected rise in the number of Chinese tourists to the US, the new visa rules will also boost the trend of Chinese people buying real estate in the country, according to property industry insiders.

Liu Jun, a real estate agent in Florida who has dealt mainly with Chinese buyers in the past 10 years, said she has recently received a large number of calls and e-mails from Chinese clients asking about property prices.

"The housing market is apparently getting a boost from the new visa rules, which make it rather attractive to wealthy Chinese who want to relocate or send their children or families to the US," she said.

The overheated housing market in China's big cities and the rising incidence of heavy pollution are encouraging Chinese people to buy homes in the US, she added.

According to statistics from the National Association of Realtors, the largest trade association in the sector, Chinese people became the largest overseas purchasers of homes in the US homes by dollar value last year, replacing Canadians at the top of the list.

From April 2013 to March, Chinese purchasers bought properties in the US worth a combined $22 billion, accounting for about 25 percent of total international sales.

"That number is likely to surge in the coming years," Liu said.

Back in Beijing, Wu Na may eventually contribute to that surge, but before making a decision about taking US citizenship, she is planning a trip to the country in December to research the property market, and is hoping to find a good community with a high-quality high school for her daughter. Only then will she make a final decision on whether to take the plunge.

Visa change may boost tourism to the US


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