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A Million Chinese Tourists Visited L.A. Last Year, The First For Any U.S. City

Photo via Air China/Facebook
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Los Angeles welcomed one million Chinese tourists in 2016 — the first U.S. city to pass the threshold. And the number is projected to climb rapidly, with 2 million Chinese tourists per year expected by 2020.

According to China Daily, L.A. saw a 21.9 percent increase of Chinese tourists over 2015's number, as well as a record 7.1 million international tourists for the year (a 3.5 percent growth over 2015's number).

"As the entertainment capital of the world, Los Angeles offers an endless array of iconic experiences that are attractive to the Chinese traveler such as the Hollywood sign, Universal Studios Hollywood, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Hollywood Boulevard or seeing the Los Angeles Lakers play at Staples Center," Ernest Wooden, Jr., CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, said. "But Los Angeles is also more than just the entertainment capital of the world: The city is a cultural destination, boasting more museums than any other US city. We find that 42 percent of Chinese travelers visit our cultural institutions such as The Getty Center, LACMA and The Broad because history, heritage and iconic masterpieces appeal to them very much."

The board noted that, for 2015 (the most recent year's data available), Chinese tourists spent $1.3 billion in Los Angeles, averaging $212 daily per visitor, with a 7.3 day average stay.

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According to NBC News, recent visa restrictions have eased, allowing more than just China's wealthy to visit the United States. And in 2014, the U.S. began permitting 10-year, multiple entry visas to Chinese citizens.

"Los Angeles recognized the vast potential of the inbound Chinese tourism market early on, as we were the first municipal tourism marketing organization in the US to open a full-time office in China (Beijing)," Wooden continued, according to China Daily. California now has tourism offices in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, with a fourth office to open in Chengdu by June. "Our research calls for double-digit tourism growth to Los Angeles out of China for at least the next year. And travel is bipartisan; political leaders on both sides will always agree on the tourism industry's economic benefits, as well as benefits for our diplomatic relations with other countries."