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California Welcomes Chinese Visa Policy Change

Photo caption:

Photo by CEB Imagery / Flickr

Sunset in Santa Monica, Oct. 29, 2011.

Chinese visitors are already flocking to California, and a visa change that takes effect Wednesday could increase the number of Chinese tourists coming to the state.

In 2013 more than 800,000 people visited California from China and spent nearly $2 billion here. Seventy percent went to Los Angeles and almost half went to San Francisco.

The number of Chinese tourists was already expected to double in the next few years. But it could increase even further thanks to a decision by the United States to allow Chinese tourists and business people to apply for 10-year multiple-entry visas.

"Anytime we see a travel barrier removed, we see the positive effects from that on the tourism end," said Ryan Becker, who is with Visit California.

For instance, Becker said California saw a surge in Taiwanese and South Korean tourism after changes in the visa policies for those countries.

Becker says Visit California has seen China as a potential growth market for several years. For the first time its ad campaign includes a Chinese-language television commercial.

"This fiscal year we are investing about $5 million in direct-to-consumer marketing programs that describe that California lifestyle to the Chinese consumer," he said.

Chinese visitors already make up the largest percentage of overseas tourists to California. Becker said the multiple-year visas will allow them to come back and visit other parts of the state.

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