SOURCE: Los Angeles World Airports

December 11, 2007 19:08 ET

Mayor Villaraigosa Applauds Historic U.S.-Chinese Visitor Agreement to Boost Chinese Tourism in the United States

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - December 11, 2007) - Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa today applauded the signing of an historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) travel policy agreement between the United States and China. This MOU agreement will, for the first time, allow Chinese leisure groups to travel to the U.S. Through this agreement, Los Angeles expects to see a 50 percent increase in travel from China after the first 12 months of the policy's implementation. This equates to a 55,000 increase in visitors and a $44 million increase in direct visitor spending,

"The historic agreement signed today in Beijing is good for America, but it is great for Los Angeles," said Mayor Villaraigosa. "L.A. is uniquely positioned to benefit from this agreement thanks to last year's initiative to open the first city-level tourism office in China. The fact that all three Chinese airline carriers serve Los Angeles International Airport is also a decided advantage for Los Angeles."

Today's agreement between the United States and China was announced at the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT). The Memorandum of Understanding will bring more customers to the U.S. tourism industry by facilitating group leisure travel from China to the U.S. and is expected to be implemented in the Spring of 2008.

"Today, one third of all Chinese visitors to the U.S. come to Los Angeles and we're glad to have the resources in place to ensure that trend continues," said Mark Liberman, president and chief executive officer of LA INC., the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Over the past year, our office in Beijing has established relationships with Chinese travel agencies and tour operators that will provide us with a competitive edge."

China is Los Angeles' fastest growing overseas visitor market. In 2006, 110,000 visitors from China generated $109 million in direct visitor spending in Los Angeles. With 19 weekly nonstop flights from China to L.A., Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the only U.S. airport serviced by all three national Chinese airlines -- Air China (seven weekly flights serving Beijing), China Eastern (seven weekly flights serving Shanghai Pudong) and China Southern (five weekly flights serving Guangzhou).

"The agreement to permit Chinese group leisure travel to the U.S. underscores the importance of LAX moving ahead with airport construction projects serving the international aviation community," said Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports. "The Tom Bradley International Terminal modernization and the recently announced Midfield Satellite are among airport improvement programs that will make LAX fully competitive with other U.S. air gateways and provide world travelers with the highest levels of customer service."

"Los Angeles made a very strategic decision by setting up a tourism office in Beijing more than a year ago," said Yimei Guo, general manager of China Travel Service (USA), Inc. "With the expected demand in Chinese visitors to the U.S. to significantly increase over the next few years, L.A. is well positioned to take advantage of the marketplace."

Between 2006 and 2011, tourism analysts predict inbound travel from China to the U.S. will expand by 81 percent. It is estimated that 176 million residents of China have the financial means to travel and it is expected that this number will increase by 50 million within the next five years.

Contact Information

    Office of the Mayor
    Darryl Ryan
    Gil Duran
    (213) 978-0741