China-U.S. Visa Extension Could Bolster Economy

Last month during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing, President Barack Obama announced the United States and China would extend the duration of visas available to each other's citizens. Short-term business travelers, tourists and students (depending on the length of their program) now are eligible for visas valid for up to 10 years.

Previously, visas for both countries were limited to one year, meaning frequent visitors had to reapply annually, for a $160 fee. Ten years is the longest visa validity possible under U.S. law and is available to other countries, including some European nations and Brazil.

"This policy move will harness the colossal and growing Chinese travel market for the direct benefit of U.S. job creation, exports and economic growth," said Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, in a statement. He added that while overseas visitors spend an average of $4,500 per trip, visitors from China spend $7,200, more than any other country.

The new policy also could be a boon for associations and their meetings. "Associations are growing on a global level through memberships, products and services, and meetings and convention business. And, they are exploring and cultivating business ventures with emerging markets, including China," noted John Graham IV, president and CEO of ASAE.

IAEE president David DuBois predicted the extensions could lead to increased trade-show participation, as well as new show launches.

Federal figures show 1.8 million Chinese visited the States in 2013, spending $21.1 billion on-site. Some 7.3 million Chinese are expected to visit the U.S. by 2021.