Saturday, September 5, 2015
Nearly 200 tourism industry leaders from the U.S. and China will gather in Los Angeles for the ninth annual U.S.-China Leadership Summit, Sept. 9-11 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. The yearly event provides participants with an open forum to discuss issues affecting tourism between the two countries.
For the first time, Brand USA – the destination marketing organization for the United States – is taking the lead role to plan the annual summit with the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA). The premier sponsors for this year’s event are Visit California and the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board (L.A. Tourism).
“Tourism continues to be a powerful driver for ushering in a new era of cooperation between the U.S. and China,” said Christopher L. Thompson, Brand USA’s president and CEO. “Bringing tourism leaders and government officials from both countries together will help facilitate meaningful partnerships during the summit and beyond.”
“Visit California is honored to be part of this remarkable gathering of tourism and government leaders and to have the opportunity to showcase our Golden State for millions of potential tourists,” said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California. “China is California’s No. 1 overseas market for tourism, and the collaborative, mutually beneficial objectives of this summit will contribute to strengthening tourism business between our regions.”
In addition to California’s position as a top destination for Chinese travelers, Los Angeles is a major gateway for travel between China and the U.S.
“We value the Chinese market, and as one of the world’s premier travel destinations, there’s no better setting than Los Angeles for delegates and industry leaders to strengthen their relationships and foster new ideas during this summit,” said Ernest Wooden Jr., president and CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board.
China is currently the fourth-largest source market for inbound tourism to the U.S., according to Brand USA. Slightly more than 2 million Chinese visited the U.S. during 2014 – a jump of 20 percent over the previous year. Brand USA officials project that China will become the No. 1 market within three years.
“The increasing flow of Chinese tourists to the U.S. translates into substantial economic impact,” Thompson said. “Chinese visitors spend on average $6,000 per person on each trip to the U.S. – about 30 percent more than other inbound international travelers.”
Thompson also said: “The summit is a tremendous opportunity to discuss strategies for joint marketing by the U.S. and China. And, it affords an ideal environment for forging productive, enduring relationships.”
In November 2014, the United States and China announced a reciprocal agreement that extends the validity of short-term tourist and business visas issued to each other’s citizens from one to 10 years. Student visa validity increased from one to five years. The State Department has seen nearly a 50 percent increase in Chinese applications for U.S. nonimmigrant visas since the announcement.
The 2015 summit will feature the concurrent annual meeting of the tourism working group of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT). The JCCT is a government-to-government forum to address bilateral trade issues between the United States and China, and the tourism working group is led by the National Travel and Tourism Office at the U.S. Department of Commerce and CNTA. The group is expected to address several key policy issues related to the flow of travelers between the two countries.
The first U.S.-China Leadership Summit was held in 2007, in Charlotte, N.C. Locations of the summit alternate between the U.S. and China yearly. The 2014 event was in Xiamen, an historic seaport on China’s southeastern coast.
U.S. Travel Association, a national advocacy group that promotes U.S. tourism among policymakers, initiated the summit in coordination with CNTA. After having prime responsibility every year for planning the summit on behalf of the United States, U.S. Travel phased out of this role in 2014, when it shared responsibilities with Brand USA.