While Guam’s request for a visa-waiver program for mainland Chinese tourists remains pending, a new agreement between the United States and China could increase Chinese tourism and business travels to the island, a local tourism official said.
President Obama’s deal with China, which would allow Chinese tourist and business visas to be valid from one year to up to 10 years, also received support from the chief executives of Delta and United Airlines. U.S. citizens will also receive a reciprocal visa for entry into China for up to 10 years.
“The announcement from the federal government that it is extending short-term Chinese tourist and business visas from one year to 10 years is great news for Guam,” said Guam Visitors Bureau General Manager Karl Pangelinan. “While we will still push for a visa waiver, this visa extension will definitely help ease the travel process for visitors and provide more jobs and opportunities for our people,” Pangelinan said.
United Airlines Chairman, President and CEO Jeff Smisek issued a statement applauding the U.S.-China travel deal.
“As a global company with an important China route network, we support agreements that simplify travel and remove obstacles for our customers,” Smisek said.
United started regular service between Shanghai and Guam last month.
“China is a fast-growing economy and this agreement will open up travel that will drive economic benefits in the U.S.,” Smisek said.
Delta CEO Richard Anderson said the agreement “will provide a significant economic boost to the U.S., and is expected to create hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide. China is becoming an increasingly important travel and tourism partner with the U.S., and this is an essential step in ensuring that the United States receives the economic benefits,” Anderson said.
Last year, 1.8 million Chinese visitors entered the United States, contributing $21 billion to the U.S. economy and creating 100,000 jobs, according to the Obama administration.
The visa extension is expected to more than quadruple those numbers. Guam saw 14,542 visitor arrivals from China in fiscal 2014. Overall, Guam welcomed 1.34 million tourists last fiscal year. Guam’s tourism industry aims to welcome 200,000 tourists from China and 2 million tourists from all markets by 2020.
“GVB will continue to work hard with our tourism partners in growing the China market and promoting our island paradise,” Pangelinan said.