New 10-Year Visas for Visitors from China to Promote Tourism and Travel to Hawaii

Visitors from China Contributed More Than $300 Million to Hawai‘i’s Economy in 2013

Honolulu, HI – Today, 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. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Tourism, Competitiveness, and Innovation, applauded the agreement for its potential to boost visitation to Hawai‘i.

“Chinese visitors contributed more than $300 million to Hawai‘i’s economy last year and make up the fastest-growing market of outbound travel,”
Senator 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 Hawai‘i’s visitor industry.”  

Last year, more than 130,000 visitors from China visited Hawai‘i, 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.