LOS ANGELES— In the past several years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of tourists from China visiting the United States. They have helped boost local economies and businesses expect the growth to continue. Some businesses in Los Angeles are catering to their needs.
Visitors to Los Angeles find countless movie studios, endless stars in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a constant flow of Chinese tourists.
“Los Angeles, we are the city in the United States that more Chinese come to than any other city in the States," said Mark Liberman, who is with the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board.
Liberman says there has been a steady increase in the number of tourists from China who visit Los Angeles. Other popular destinations include San Francisco, New York,and Washington, D.C.
Economist Ferdinando Guerra, of the L.A. County Economic Development Corporation, says more than one million tourists from China visited the United States last year.
“It is a nearly 40 percent increase from 2010 to 2011," he said.
Joseph Chi of Shine Tours says this year the Los Angeles company has seen an almost 30 percent increase in tour groups from China.
“All the China passport holders, they thought the United States is their dream country like to visit," said Chi.
China’s growing middle class means more can afford to travel overseas.
Like most Chinese tourists, Liu Wei Yie is with a group. He says the United States is currently the world’s most powerful economy. He says the United States was established with a spirit of independence and competition that he wants to see.
Steven Chou of Universal Studios Hollywood says the number of Chinese tourists has been increasing in the past two to three years, but he says especially this year, after the U.S. government made the visa application faster for Chinese tourists.
“We definitely see the trend to continue. From my perspective, and from Universal Studios Hollywood we are definitely looking for ways to enhance the experience of the Chinese guests," he said.
At Universal Studios Hollywood, there is a Mandarin movie studio tour, Mandarin-speaking employees, and maps in Chinese. The theme park also has restaurants that serve burgers and fries, and also Chinese food.
The Montage Beverly Hills also caters to its Chinese guests with Chinese tea in the hotel rooms, handwritten notes in Chinese, and Mandarin-speaking staff.
General Manager Hermann Elger says his Chinese clients are businessmen and families. Many shop on Rodeo Drive, a street famous for its luxury goods.
“And our retail partners on Rodeo tell us they are the largest segment of the shoppers as of this year," he said.
Economist Ferdinando Guerra says Chinese tourists like to shop, and they are big spenders when they travel.
"The Chinese actually spend more than double the average international visitor in California," he said.
Guerra says Chinese tourists are contributing billions of dollars to the U.S. economy, which translates to more American jobs. The U.S. Commerce Department expects the number of tourists from China to double by 2016.