California Receives Huge Spike in Chinese Tourism


California has received a huge spike in tourists coming over from China over the past few years, especially in the County of Los Angeles. In fact, the rates over the past years for L.A. have quadrupled since 2009 when there were only approximately 158,000 Chinese visitors. In 2012 the number of tourists was up to 570,000 according to the L.A. Economic Development Corporation.

China was not even among the ten largest sources of foreign travelers into L.A. a few years ago, but now it is number one. Almost half of all Chinese coming to the United States stopover in California and almost 75 percent of them go through Los Angeles County.

Chinese tourists spent $655 million in L.A in 2012, an increase from the $450 million in 2011 according to the L.A board of tourists. Each visitor spent $1,392 per journey on average, almost $300 over the budget of all other overseas travelers at $1,095. That is a substantial difference when extrapolated outward and taking in to account that the Economic Development Corporation thinks L.A. could see as many as two million Chinese tourists annually by 2020.

The local Chinese population in Los Angeles is the largest of any county in the United States. Rising nearly 15 percent from 2008 to 413,000 residents in 2012. This influx of both permanent and temporary Chinese citizens coming to America has fueled an upswing in new developments in the San Gabriel Valley and other areas outside of the city.

One of many reasons for this surge in tourism and as well as permanent relocations are the highly concentrated amounts of high level education available in L.A. and the surrounding regions. The University of Southern California has the most Chinese enrollees in the nation, followed by UCLA. There are over 10,000 Chinese students in local universities in L.A. County, the largest in the nation and over triple the number of students in 2009 at just 3,000. Having all of these students creates opportunities for families to come visit, spiking the number of Chinese tourists even more than is already being received in California.

Another of the reasons for increases in tourism and arguably the most important is trade. Trade with the People’s Republic of China is thriving. The district of Los Angeles Customs had record trade volumes and was estimated at value of $414.5 billion last year, $221.4 billion of which was directly with China. California’s L.A. County has the largest county economy in the U.S. and therefore has an outstanding trade infrastructure with numerous ports, railways, freeways and airports all connecting together. This gives excellent access to national and international markets and enables profitable returns on Chinese investments in the future.

The amount of Chinese owned businesses in the county increased nearly two-fold in six years to 254. Many are retail trade businesses, warehouses, wholesale corporations and transportation firms. But major companies such as the Bank of China, China Telecom, and a Cathay Pacific Airlines do considerable business in Southland as well.

All of this means a very bright future for the relationships between China, California, and Los Angeles County in particular. L.A. County will continue to play a vital role in the greater U.S. economy and receive the benefits of Chinese tourism with huge spikes projected in the future. California and Los Angeles are ultimately in extremely favorable positions to benefit from China’s sustained economic rise as the nation’s gateway from China.

By Taylor Rash

LA Times – Chinese tourism and investment
LA Times – Chinese tourism to L.A. quadruples
Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation

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