Visa Vis

Obama's push for Chinese tourism.

Last Thursday, just in time for Chinese new year, President Obama unveiled new directives that would make it easier for tourists from countries like China and Brazil to visit the United States.

In a speech delivered from Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, the President announced:

I’m directing the State Department to accelerate our ability to process visas by 40 percent in China and in Brazil this year.

The White House has also expressed hopes that 80% of non-immigrant visa applicants could be interviewed within three weeks of getting their application. According to China Daily:

Charles Bennett, minister counselor for consular affairs of the US embassy in Beijing, told China Daily earlier that 50 more American staff members will be deployed to the embassy and US consulates in China this year.

In addition, more interview windows and buildings will be built and the embassy is considering allowing people to arrange an interview date as early as two days after he applied, he said.

But don’t be fooled. Despite the bilateral enthusiasm surrounding these new initiates, the push to expedite visas for Chinese nationals has less to do with improving Sino-US relations than one thing: cold hard cash.

According to the China Tourism Academy, 70 million Chinese traveled overseas last year and spent a total of $69 billion abroad, making them the third largest overseas spenders after Germans and Americans. 2012 could see those figures increase to 78.4 million and $80 billion, respectively. That’s a lot of money. Indeed, Chinese tourists are already making their presence felt in EnglandSpain, Japan and South Korea, and the Obama administration is eager to get a bigger piece of that pie.

Continue reading at Project Pengyou.